‘I was stung by a wasp and couldn’t bend my hand’: Blenheim Horse Trials rider defies the odds for emotional cross-country clear

  • Holly Needham was emotional after steering Forever Noble (Fritz) home clear in the Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country phase. Holly has had a rocky season, with her other top horse, Hendrix, suffering a fatal injury at Bicton four-star in June. This week at Blenheim didn’t start brilliantly either, as Holly had an adverse reaction after being stung by a wasp on trot-up day.

    “I was stung on Wednesday, did my dressage on Thursday and it was fine, but on Friday I woke up and I couldn’t bend my left hand at all,” said Holly, 21. “I went to the doctors and they gave me whatever they could, and I iced it all day. I had to walk the course holding my hand up as if it was in a sling. It’s amazing it’s gone down; it was absolutely huge.

    “I had no idea I was allergic to wasps. I was very worried I might not be able to ride today. Fritz is now my only horse at four-star after I lost my chestnut, ‘Harry’, at Bicton, and I should have had him here too.”

    Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country: “It means so much to me”

    Holly showed no side-effects from the swollen hand across country. Forever Noble, a 10-year-old by Cormint, “flew round” clear with just 5.2 time-faults to add to their dressage of 36.9. It was a bittersweet round. Holly has only competed at a handful of events since the sadness of losing Harry.

    “I hadn’t realised but I broke my shoulder in that fall at Bicton, I had no idea – obviously the adrenaline was so high,” Holly said. “I showjumped Fritz afterwards, and he absolutely flew round, but I came out and said ‘I have definitely broken my shoulder’.”

    Holly was sidelined for six weeks and recuperated with the help of cryotherapy. She returned with a double clear on Fritz at Somerford CCI3* at the end of August.

    “He’s an absolute hero; he’s really stepped up after we lost Harry,” she said. “He’s held everyone together – this means so much to me to get him round here today, just for Harry.”

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