Tales from the H&H Champs: ‘I woke up and couldn’t move’

  • Eventing is difficult enough even if you are 100% fit and healthy, but Nicole Corbin, who is competing at the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships, has to deal with a condition that might be enough to stop some others from riding at all.

    Ten years ago, Nicole woke up the morning after a black tie event she had attended, and found that she couldn’t move.

    “I had no energy or strength and so went to hospital for rigorous tests,” says Nicole, who hails from Chelmsford in Essex. “I was diagnosed with ME and told I would never work again.”

    Characteristics associated with ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) include severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances and poor memory and concentration.

    “It will take me to the end of next month to recover from this weekend,” states Nicole, who continues to work as a school teacher. “My doctor is very understanding and he provided me with a note to bring to this competition saying that someone else should be allowed to warm up my horse and that I should also be allowed to have my dressage test called as my short-term memory is non-existent.”

    Nicole was proud to not need anyone to read her dressage test, scoring 36 in the process riding Zoe Bennett’s 20-year-old mare, Midnight Madness.

    “I signed up for the Wobbleberry challenge before I even had a horse to ride,” says Nicole who rode around with a Willberry Wonder Pony strapped to her. “Until February, I hadn’t jumped for 20 years, but then Zoe offered me ‘Gemini’ and with the help of a big back up team to get me through each day, I’m managing to reach my goals. Zoe is a fab owner and I couldn’t do it without her.”

    Nicole jumped clear across country and then after Zoe had warmed Gemini up for the showjumping, the pair went on to jump clear, just incurring two time-faults to finish 10th in the 70cm section at the H&H championships.

    Continued below…

    “I cried after my showjumping round as I had no strength left in my arms, but the whole experience has set me up nicely to attempt to complete the Wobbleberry challenge in a BE80(T) class at the British Eventing competition here at Keysoe next month. Gemini is amazing — before this weekend, I had never ridden a competitive cross-country round before, but she’s such a sweet character and she really looks after me,” says Nicole of the 15.3hh thoroughbred X Cleveland Bay.

    Read the full report from the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships in H&H — on sale Thursday, 8 June

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