From Badminton grassroots to Badminton five-star: rider’s ‘horse of a lifetime’ put down

  • Five-star eventer David Britnell has paid tribute to his “horse of a lifetime” Continuity, who has been put down following a tendon injury aged 17.

    David, 30, bought the gelding by Contender as a four-year-old and the pair worked their way up the levels in eventing, starting at Pony Club. In 2018 they made their five-star debut at Pau CCI4* (now CCI5*), where they were 10th.

    David told H&H “Brad” would always “dig deep” and overcome anything put in front of him.

    “We worked up the ranks in British Eventing gently. We never had anything knock us back or knock our confidence and we only moved up when we were really ready, so there were no gaps in his education or mine as far as possible,” he said.

    “We never really pushed to get to a certain level, it was always just ‘lets see where we go’.”

    In 2013 David and Brad competed in the BE100 at the Badminton Grassroots Championships — six years later they returned to the event at five-star level, where they were clear across country and placed 38th.

    “It’s one of those things that you’d never really think you would do. The whole time I was at the competition [in 2019] it was just sheer elation and I felt so proud we were even there,” he said.

    “It was lovely to walk from the stables to the main ring, people would stop and speak to Brad and they said they’d been watching him and were so pleased to see us there at the five-star. Being there was the cherry on top, it was a phenomenal thing to come of what was essentially just a Pony Club horse.”

    Brad sustained a tendon injury two from home in the cross-country at the Aston le Walls CCI4*-S in May. The gelding underwent treatment and box rest, but failed to recover from the injury. He was put down on 16 July.

    “We did everything we could but he wasn’t coping, he’s a horse who has essentially spent his whole life living out. He was having laser treatment every other day, but his other leg was starting to show signs of strain. It’s that fine line of ‘who are you keeping the horse going for?’ and at the end of the day his comfort and wellbeing is the most important thing,” said David.

    “I think it will be the hardest decision I’ll ever have to make. It was like saying goodbye to your brother. He was the most affectionate, cuddly, soft horse who was always there to comfort you when you were down. You could never say he was just a horse, he felt so human to us. His drive, determination and heart were phenomenal.”

    David’s partner Fleur Manyweathers added that it had been a “difficult grieving process”.

    “It’s been like living the worst nightmare. Every day you wake up and walk into the barn and you hope he’s going to be there,” she said. “It’s so easy in situations like this to just give up and think ‘what’s it all worth?’, but we owe it to Brad to keep fighting.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...