Imogen Murray enjoyed an early Christmas present with her first ride back on five-star specialist Ivar Gooden as he continues his rehabilitation.
The 14-year-old gelding, owned by MS Team and Aiver Ward, sustained a leg injury at Bicton CCI4*-L in June, which ruled him out for the remainder of the 2021 season.
“Sir Charles” started his comeback in July, with long-rein walk work, and Imogen enjoyed her first ride back on her stable star on Saturday (18 December).
“It was really nice to be back on him,” Imogen told H&H. “While he has been in walk long-reining for a long time, it doesn’t feel real that he has been coming back [until I got on him].”
The pair’s top results include completions on all six of their starts at Badminton and Burghley – three of which were double clears – and two top-10 finishes. They finished eighth at Badminton and sixth at Burghley in 2019 and have also represented Britain in Nations Cup competition.
Imogen added that the horse has been coping well with his recovery programme, and she has found long-reining to be an excellent way of keeping his mind and body active.
“He has actually been trotting since the middle of November on the long reins – I’ve found he’s much better behaved on those than he normally is under saddle,” she said.
“I’ve been doing a lot of poles, and raised walk poles, with him on those – things that he can do and to keep his brain interested. It’s like yoga for him and it’s a workout for me trying to follow him through the raised poles!”
Imogen said doing so much groundwork has helped in a number of unexpected ways, from giving her a different angle to see how he moves without her in the saddle, to a positive report from the physio.
“The physio said that he feels the best he has ever felt on his back,” said Imogen, adding that she was concerned about how his body would cope with the time off and muscular changes that come with it.
“The fact that he feels so good when he isn’t in work is brilliant, as normally he would struggle with his back.”
Imogen had a double reason to celebrate this month as her second top horse, four-star campaigner Roheryn Ruby, had her first jump away from home after sustaining an injury at Burgham in August 2020.
“She’s taken a long time and is now back in full work,” said Imogen, adding that there is no rush and she plans to continue taking things slowly to give the horses as much time as they need.
“Having them both off at the same time was quite difficult. Hopefully next year they will both be back out. I’m a big believer that giving them more time than they ‘need’ helps further down the line.”
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