Tales from the H&H Festival of Eventing: the rider returning from a broken back and the horse she almost sold

  • Although she is currently smack bang in the middle of her GCSEs, 16-year-old Nieve Baker, is making the most of her time at the H&H Festival of Eventing, run in association with KBIS.

    Based in Hertfordshire, Nieve was riding Marley Blaney, who she found four years ago in Maidstone.

    “I went to try another horse but saw Marley in the stable and we just clicked,” explains Nieve. “He was so nervous to start with and we couldn’t even get a headcollar on him, but I’ve produced him up to 90cm/1m showjumping.”

    Nieve said she almost sold Marley, but navicular diagnosis prevented this from happening.

    “Marley was diagnosed with mild navicular so we decided to turn him out for a year and then see how he was,” says Nieve. “He ended up coming sound and so we brought him back into work, and he has been fine so far.”

    But last summer disaster struck when Nieve fractured her lower back while competing in a showjumping class.

    “I got back on as soon as I could and rode with a brace for a while,” says Nieve who is competing in the 70cm class this weekend at Keysoe with her 11-year-old 15.2hh.

    “My granddad has inspired me this weekend, as he is 82 and has come over from Ireland to support me — he’s staying in the back of our lorry!”

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    Nieve says Marley “made up some of his own moves” in their dressage test, but stormed around the cross-country clear and inside the time.

    “I was so proud of him across country — I just wanted to get round the course.”

    Don’t miss the full report from the H&H Festival of Eventing in Horse & Hound magazine — on sale Thursday, 7 June and follow online at www.horseandhound.co.uk

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