Tales from Hartpury: horse returns from two tendon injuries and navicular break to become dressage star

While lots of riders overcome challenges to compete at winter championships, one rider and her gelding appear to have endured more than the average combination to get here.

Kimberly Ainsworth and her home-bred 11-year-old Stockagate Son Shine (Foalie) are set to compete in the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury (3-7 April).

“I decided to breed a potential dressage horse from my mare as I couldn’t afford to buy a ready-made one,” says Kim, who runs a livery yard in Halifax, North Yorkshire. “Foalie just exceeded our expectations and I can’t really believe he has grown into the horse he has.”

After being broken in as a four-year-old, the 16.2hh Longdean Westminter son tore a tendon on his hind leg which put him out of action.

“We got him right after numerous vet trips and then after bringing him back into work for a short while, he did it again on the same leg,” continues Kim. “It was a massive blow.

“This time we got him sound and then got him fit by using a water treadmill. When he was six, he then had a freak accident on the road and went lame again. After countless vet trips, MRI scans and a small fortune in costs we found out he’d broken his navicular bone.”

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Kim continues: “We’ve now got him sound but really have to look after his feet; he is shod every five weeks and if he loses a shoe on his bad foot, he has to have it poulticed. We have an amazing farrier who has tried all sorts of different shoes. We also find that the fitter he is, the less likely he is to go lame again. We have now been competing in affiliated dressage for three years.

“So many people have asked why I keep bothering with him, and say that I should just give up. But I believe in him and he has given me lots of opportunities which I ordinarily wouldn’t have had.”

Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk