Five months ago, one horse competing at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September) this week, was just embarking on a long rehabilitation period after fracturing its cannon bone.
MFS Caliana, a 10-year-old chestnut mare had spent nine week on box rest.
Her owner and rider Jennifer Johnston Harman explains: “We think ‘Cali’ sustained her injury while throwing some impressive shapes on the lunge towards the end of the winter. She took a lame step and then by the afternoon she was non-weight bearing on her near fore. It took us five days to diagnose what was wrong and then she had to spend nine weeks on box rest in a very confined space. We moved her twice each day — five steps to the solarium and then five steps in reverse back to her stable.”
Cali then spent weeks in walk doing steady rehabilitation to re-build the muscle she had lost.
“It was a real labour of love, but thankfully she was a good patient and I think that has a lot to do with how well she has returned to competition,” explains Jennifer, who rides full-time.
There was one good thing to come out of Cali’s injury.
“As she was so bored walking all the time, she started offering piaffe,” laughs Jennifer. “So that’s made us even more determined and ambitious to move up the levels.”
Cali came to Jennifer as a “very tricky four-year-old”.
“She can throw angry, ginger lady tantrums!” says Jennifer who spent two days travelling down from her home in Aberdeen to compete here. “But we’ve stuck with her as she’s also fabulous.”
The pair have had “lots of fun” contesting premier league competitions and competing in the prix st georges and advanced medium championships this week scoring 66.11% and 68.71% respectively.
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“My daughter is 17 and would love to steal Cali to do junior teams on, but we’ll have to see about that!” says Jennifer.
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.