Tales from Hartpury: ‘My foot was only still attached to my leg thanks to my boot’

  • A rider who qualified for the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships just three weeks after major surgery finished fifth in the KBIS prelim silver final with exactly 70%.

    Catherine Rose had just bought her Winter Dressage Championships ride, Abermenai Gilbern Invader (Gilbert), back in April 2019 when she fell off him out hacking and broke her ankle in five places.

    “He spooked and I landed terribly. The paramedics said my foot was only still attached to my leg because my boots had splinted it in place. I’ll never, ever ride without long boots now,” says Catherine.

    “I was in hospital for three weeks, in an external fixator for four months and in a walking boot for another five months, before I was given the go ahead to ride again, 11 months after the accident. Then, four days later, we went into the first national lockdown. It was a nightmare,” she adds.

    Luckily, Catherine’s husband was able to keep Gilbert, now nine, ticking over during the year she was off games, and she says the Saint Malo gelding benefited from the time, strengthening up gently.

    “I intended to event him but as he matured and I did more flatwork I realised he was quite talented for dressage,” she explains. “We went to the Area Festival summer championships last year and we have done a couple of novices, but I didn’t think he was ready to do novice at championship levels so decided to do the regionals this time at prelim. Then I received the date for the surgery I had been waiting for since September 2020, to have the metalwork removed from my ankle, and it was three weeks before regionals.”

    Catherine only sat on Gilbert a handful of times between the operation and the Prestige regionals and says she only went to “get a stable plaque and nice photo. We never expected to qualify”. But qualify she did, finishing second with over 70%, and she is hugely excited to be competing at her first Winter Dressage Championships.

    “This horse is just incredible. He’s really capable and just such a nice horse to ride. I couldn’t wait to get him down that centre line.”

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