‘I was past the point of no return!’ Watch rogue gust topple 1.35m oxer as horse jumps

  • The weather on the Andalucia Sunshine Tour in Spain didn’t quite live up to its billing recently when strong winds kept competitors and organisers on their toes during the day’s showjumping classes.

    But it was British rider Will Walker who bore the brunt of a particularly strong rogue gust of wind while jumping a CSI4* 1.35m two-phase class with the 11-year-old gelding Ustino.

    “A few jumps had been blowing over and I’d joked beforehand, ‘As long as it doesn’t happen as you’re coming towards a fence…’ and that’s literally what happened!” says Will.

    As you can see in the video below, the pair were just about to take off over fence two, a fairly substantial oxer, when the wings were blown towards them and the poles came toppling down.

    “The jump was actually on a seven-stride distance so, luckily in a way, I was so committed on my distance that all I was thinking about was keeping it level,” Will tells H&H. “If it hadn’t been, I might have tried to pull out – but it happened just as we were about to take off so I’d got past the point of no return before I realised what was going on!

    “I saw the back rail coming towards me – I thought ‘Well, I’ve just got to commit now’ – then suddenly the whole thing just blew from under him!”

    Ustino can be seen pricking his ears briefly as the poles start falling, but the gelding does a sterling job of soaring over the gap left where the oxer once stood.

    “It was surprising because he’s a horse who’s a bit scared of life really – he’s quite a nervous person,” reveals Will of the gelding who was bred by his owner Richard Jenkinson and has been with Will for more than six years. “But because we have a brilliant partnership now, he just does whatever I ask of him – so I think it was more a case of me saying ‘Yes do it’ and him believing in me.”

    On landing, the pair managed to regroup and carry on to fence three, but Ustino wasn’t keen to go back near the scene of the incident.

    “At first I thought, ‘Should I retire?’ as I wasn’t sure he would want to come to the next fence after that, but he just carried on as normal,” says Will. “But the problem came when we started the second phase as we had to come inside the fallen fence where the guys were busy trying to build it. That’s when his spookiness came out, he was having none of it – he said enough’s enough, I’m going round that!”

    Will and Ustino eventually cleared the rest of the track, although “my time was pretty slow!” he says.

    “The show was amazing – they tried really hard, but it was a particularly windy day! They had all the fences pegged down after that though,” adds Will, who enjoyed a very successful string of placings on the Sunshine Tour.

    “So it was quite an unusual thing to happen – it was good timing for the video, though, that’s for sure!”

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