There was drama in the inter-hunt relay at the Festival of Hunting on Wednesday (20 July) when a horse and rider crashed out through the metal barriers surrounding the ring.
Natasha Fountain and her 16.2hh, 19-year-old gelding Jay, representing the Cambridge University Drag Hounds team, were both unharmed in the incident, in the first round of the competition at the East of England showground at Peterborough.
“The photographs make it look far worse than it actually felt,” explained Natasha. “It was just a difference of opinion and we simply ran out of space.”
“I was still committed to turning for the third fence but the exit to the ring was directly in line with the first two fences and he napped towards the exit!”
“He was incredibly clever and although it might appear that he got his legs stuck, he managed to somehow flick his legs out and in the process I just plopped off gently onto the floor beneath him.”
“He’s brilliant in a crisis and I knew he wouldn’t tread on me,” added Natasha, who has owned the part-bred Appaloosa for 13 years.
“The paramedics rushed up to me to ensure I was ok and the vets checked Jay over straight away. Apart from a tiny scratch on one fetlock there isn’t another mark on him and he’s absolutely fine today.”
Inter-hunt relays are known for entertaining the crowd and often provide thrills and spills throughout the highly competitive contests, in which two teams of four riders jump a mirror-image course with time penalties added for fences knocked down.
The fastest against the clock usually goes through to the next round of the knockout event.
Sadly for Natasha, the incident meant she was unable to complete her round. Her team mates came to the rescue but by that time it was too late for them to be competitive and they were knocked out.
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The winners of the senior hunt relay were the Holcombe Hunt team; captain Paul Conway riding Wacko, Mark Dickson-Bradley on Whinny, Sarah Lundy riding Georgio and Rosie Hurst on Ted. The junior competition was won by the Cottesmore Foxes.
The Holcombe had a very successful day, taking home plenty of ribbons in the harriers classes, following on from their successes at the Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate the previous week.