The news broke this morning that the promising British combination of Fiona Bigwood and her 10-year-old Atterupgaards Orthilia (Gribaldi x Donnerschlag) will not compete in today’s grand prix freestyle individual final.
After competing in yesterday’s special test in driving rain, the mare has had a reaction on her back under the saddlepad.
“I got a call from the vets this morning who said I had to come to the showground,” she said. “She’s had a reaction under the saddle – I think because she got so wet yesterday – and when you touch the area today she’s putting her ears back and kicking out.
“Of course horse welfare is our number one priority and she certainly doesn’t deserve to be ridden when she’s uncomfortable and she’s given me everything and tried so hard this week. I’m gutted but it’s all about the horse.”
The next major aim for the pair is the Rio Olympic Games next year.
“We’ll all sit down and work out the plan of campaign ahead of Rio now,” said Fiona. “It’s less than a year away and the time will fly.
“Tillie will go home later today as I don’t want her to be alone in the stables,” added the Sussex-based rider, who was at the championships with her Danish husband Anders Dahl and their three children.
Fiona was so sure that she wouldn’t qualify for the music final that she left her music behind. However, they were barely out of their driveway when she let slip, and Anders made her go back and get it.
The remaining two Britons, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, compete today. Carl rides Nip Tuck at 14.55 UK time and Charlotte is last-drawn with Valegro at 15.39 UK time.
Dane Anna Kasprzak also withdrew from the freestyle less than an hour before the class was due to start.
She was kicked in the chest by her horse Donnerperignon at the trot-up and had been coping with a lot of pain while riding. The freestyle test was a bridge too far.
For a full report on all the action, drama and medals – as well as analysis and comment – see the bumper European Championships Dressage Horse & Hound magazine edition, out Thursday (20 August).