‘His intestine flipped over his spleen’: horse comes back from colic op to win championship

  • Showjumper Kath James achieved a long-time ambition when winning the major veteran title at the National Amateur and Veteran Championships at Aintree International Equestrian Centre (8-13 November) riding Herciro Van’t Kiezelhof. Her victory came 20 years after Kath won the national amateur 1.05m championship with Cornish Quest.

    “I’ve been second, third, fourth; I’ve finally won,” said an emotional Kath, who jumped the only double clear in the 1.20m decider. “I thought I’d be beaten, Brian Thompson had two horses in it and he’s won at a good level.

    “I was in tears when my 11-year-old twins raced into the collecting ring saying, ‘We’re so proud of you’, and then ‘A moment like this’ played, I couldn’t stop crying or kissing ‘Snowball’ – I kiss him so often he puckers his lips!”

    The Cicero Z x Puccini 15-year-old – a former ride for the USA’s Laura Kraut and the Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling – was bought four years ago.

    “We’ve only competed for two years – he took nine months to recover after a colic operation followed by the Covid-19 lockdowns,” said Kath. “I’d sectioned off a paddock so he could graze but not canter and injure himself. He was so fresh he threw five enormous bucks on the spot, flipping his intestine over his spleen.

    “I knew something was wrong and went to vet Ollie Crowe at B&W Equine, Gloucestershire. It wasn’t compacted colic and he didn’t have any intestine removed but he has a visible lump on his belly, although it doesn’t affect him.”

    Kath is from a non-horsey family.

    “My childhood passion has been showjumping and I went to one local annual show and hacked two hours to get there. If I could have applied to be John Whitaker’s groom, I’d have been off,” said Kath, who achieved two university degrees in business, finance and marketing, and first-class honours in property and valuation.

    “Now I’m aiming for the veterans’ European championships.”

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