Competing at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September) in one piece is one thing. Competing there with a broken leg is another.
Three weeks ago yesterday (14 September), dressage rider Jessica Dunn broke her fibula.
“I was riding a young horse and it was just one of those silly things,” says Jessica. “I got knocked against the wall and my foot was facing the wrong way which caused my leg to break.”
This accident would have been enough for some riders to rest and keep away from sitting on a horse for a few weeks, but this wasn’t the case for this 27-year-old from Lancashire.
“The broken bone is a non-weight bearing one,” says Jess. “The doctors have been very helpful and although they thought I was crazy at first wanting to get back on a horse, I’ve had X-rays every six days. I said to them that as long as the bone doesn’t move, could I not at least try.”
Jess doesn’t have a cast on her leg, just a supportive boot, and she says she can walk around but it’s “not entirely comfortable”.
“Riding isn’t the nicest feeling ever either, but luckily all of my horses are super-sharp — I wouldn’t manage to do it if I had to kick!”
Jess says the reason she kept pushing towards competing at the national championships was because she has four horses qualified in a total of six classes — her best yet.
“I couldn’t just give up on the idea,” she says. “I’ve had an amazing support team at home who have kept everything going over the past three weeks. I thought when I broke my leg, ‘I can’t give up on getting to the championships until the actual day we needed to leave to go there’. If it had got to that point and I couldn’t have done it then, I would have accepted defeat.”
Icing and good strapping has kept Jess on the road.
“It’s safe for me to compete here,” she states. “I’m not going to make the injury any worse — if it’s only pain I have to go through, I’d rather deal with it and ride.”
Jess’ biggest class on the first day of the championships was the prix st georges gold final, where she rode Cedar Valley. The pair scored 66.21%.
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“The only part of my test where I felt pain was in the pirouettes where I had to put my calf on,” explains Jess. “I thought to myself ‘oh, I’d rather not do that’, hence why our mark probably wasn’t our most successful today. We’ll just have to see if I can make it as far as Sunday!”
Keep up to date with all of the news from the National Dressage Championships by keeping an eye on the Horse & Hound website, and don’t miss the full magazine report, out on Thursday 21 September.