There is one horse that has defied all odds to compete at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September) this week.
Korenbloem Royal Rebel, or Reg as he is known at home, was given a 2% chance of survival after he contracted meningitis in 2013.
His rider, Lottie Flinn explains: “We brought Reg in from the field one day and found that he couldn’t put his head down to eat his dinner. We thought maybe he had some muscle damage in between his ears and when we took him to the vets, a scan showed some damage to the muscles in his poll, which threw us off the scent. After a few days he deteriorated rapidly. He lost all co-ordination and would fall over and walk into walls — hair above his eyes has never re-grown where he scraped it off bumping into the wall. Vets then diagnosed Reg with meningitis and he was given a 2% chance of survival. I looked up other cases on the internet and found one site that said over the past 40 years in the USA, seven horses had suffered with meningitis and none of them had survived. It was touch and go for a couple of days, but we agreed with our wonderful vet, Peter Schofield of Hird & Partners Vets, that we would give Reg a chance. Once the antibiotics prescribed for targeting the bacteria kicked in, he started to show signs of improvement.”
Not too long later, Reg was allowed to return home to Lottie’s yard in Lancashire, a place he has lived since he was a five-year-old.
“I found Reg via an advert in Horse & Hound magazine,” explains 27-year-old Lottie. “He was based on Roland Tong’s yard six hours away and if he didn’t windsuck, he would have been snapped up before we got there.”
Lottie thought Reg would max out at advanced medium level, talent-wise, but he has proven her wrong.
“When Reg recovered from the meningitis, I had no idea if I’d ever be able to ride him again,” admits Lottie. “But it was like nothing has happened — it’s amazing really.”
A key part of Lottie and 14-year-old Reg’s dressage career has been Matt Frost who Lottie trains with.
“When I started having lessons with Matt, he really unlocked our potential,” says Lottie. “One day he told me that Reg and I were capable of competing internationally and I just didn’t believe him.”
However, this year Lottie was proven wrong as she and Reg, owned by her mother Kathryn Flinn, competed in the CDI3* in Pompadour, France.
“Reg tries his heart out for me — he’s so loyal and everything we’ve achieved since the meningitis is a bonus as he wasn’t really meant to be here,” says Lottie, who admits her horse, by Rubels, is also “very opinionated”.
“We call him ‘Princess Reg’ at home as he can be a bit of a princess,” she laughs.
This week, Lottie and Reg, who are accompanied by groom Lauren Gardener (pictured top), are competing in the advanced medium gold championship, which takes place tomorrow (17 September). But it has taken the pair 10 years to get here.
“It’s great to finally get here as a rider,” says Lottie. “Previously a range of things have gone wrong which have prevented us from qualifying, but it has mostly been down to me putting too much pressure on myself at the regional qualifiers. This year I chilled out completely and thought what will be, will be and we finally did it!”
Meet the rider who won't let an injury…
With regards to the future, Lottie says she would love to do a grand prix with Reg before retiring him.
“Whatever happens, we love him to pieces and he doesn’t owe me anything,” says Lottie.
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.