Tales from Tokyo: ‘My horse bit off my nose’

  • For Italy’s Susanna Bordone, the Tokyo Olympics is her 14th championship – she has competed on world and European teams in both eventing and dressage – and her third Olympics. But it’s her first championship in 10 years – because in 2011 while competing Carrera at the Europeans in Luhmühlen, her horse bit off a large part of her nose.

    “I had an accident with a horse, who bit a third of my nose off,” says Susanna. “I had six surgeries and two plastic reconstructions. That’s why I missed London 2012.”

    Susanna went on to have three children during the years that followed, extending her time out of the sport, though she was able to keep some young horses going at home during this time.

    “For me just to be here [at the Olympics] is great. When you’re at the top of the sport it’s easier to stay there, but when you stop and then just do the young ones, to go back up is not always easy.”

    Juggling Olympic eventing with a family is also tough.

    “You can imagine how difficult one month away from home is, with the quarantine,” says Susanna. “But we made it, and I feel very fortunate to be here.”

    Susanna Bordone on her Tokyo Olympics ride

    Susanna’s Tokyo horse is Imperial Van De Holtakkers, a 13-year-old Quidam De Revel gelding, whom Susanna bought from Belgian rider Joris Vanspringel in 2019.

    “This horse has given me a lot of confidence,” says Susanna, who helped Italy to team seventh with a dressage score of 44.9. She had 11 penalties in the cross-country for a frangible pin, but jumped clear in the team showjumping round before knocking just one rail in the individual showjumping to finish 18th.

    “He’s not every easy in the dressage but we really get on character-wise. He’s a very good jumper – he should probably have been a jumping horse as he is by a showjumping stallion.

    “We had a bit of bad luck on the cross-country course, but he’s been very good here, and he’s heathy and sound so we’re happy.”

    You may also be interested in…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...