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Eventer back to winning ways after hoof stuck in martingale causes crashing fall

A horse and rider who suffered a crashing fall when the horse’s front foot got caught in the martingale have come back to win three British Eventing (BE) competitions.

Stella Bunn suffered severe facial injuries when her six-year-old Renkum Capitano fell while jumping down some steps at their home in Worcestershire in June.

She was taken to hospital, where medics found she had not suffered any fractures, although she had to have stitches and dental work, as well as an MRI to rule out serious injury.

“It was horrible, and so fast,” Stella told H&H. “Usually when you fall, you have a split second to put your arm out or something but we both just hit the ground, face first. Thank god he didn’t fall on me; I could have broken my neck.”

Blurred CCTV of the incident shows “Captain” was up almost immediately, and he was found only to have suffered a minor cut, but Stella was not as lucky.

“Every time I tried to stand up, I was going to pass out,” she said. “There was blood everywhere, dripping on my phone – eventually, I managed to text people and my niece came down to help.”

Stella was back on board Captain, whom she has competed to novice level and hopes to ride at two-star in future, about two weeks later. Eight weeks to the day after the accident, the combination won a BE90 open at Homme House, and have since also won BE100 opens at Sapey on 31 August and Monmouth on Saturday (21 September).

“They’re my three local events and people there knew what it meant to me, it was lovely,” she said.

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“While I was in the ambulance, I thought: ‘I don’t know if I want to event any more’, and it felt very weird when I got back on so that first win, the horse having the faith and trust in me to go out and do it again, was a huge thing.

“He’s such a brave little horse, a real star.”

Stella said her broken martingale, hair caught in the buckle and a bald patch on Captain’s coronet band, as well as the cut where his foot was caught, makes her sure of the cause of the fall. She has now contacted BE over martingale safety and hopes to speak to manufacturers about her concerns.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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