Rider survives major tack malfunction on three-star cross-country: ‘It was a little interesting!’

  • An eventer whose rein snapped as she was coming down a steep hill on a CCI3*-S cross-country track said both she and her horse “live to fight another day”.

    Holly Woodhead and nine-year-old German-bred mare Benica B had had a good day at Somerford on 3 July, scoring 28.2 in the dressage and clear showjumping, but disaster struck at fence 10 of the cross-country.

    “It was a little interesting!” Holly told H&H.

    “She did a lovely dressage, and jumped brilliantly, then across country, we were on the time and she felt very much up for it. I’d been very excited about riding the course; I think it’s truly one of the best events in the country; the ground, the courses, everything was pretty much spot on.

    “So it was ever so slightly annoying, and scary, what happened!”

    Holly said the course went over a log, down the hill, then left-handed to two brush fences at an angle.

    “I sat back and said whoa, and she came back slightly, then went to turn left and the left rein clean snapped,” she said. “It was where the leather goes into the rubber. I don’t know how I managed it but I ended up trying to grab the bit of leather hanging off the left bit cheek, and we did about 10 circles.”

    Holly said thoughts occurred to her of trying to put the rein through the bit so she could carry on.

    “But I thought that wouldn’t be fair on her as she’d been so brilliant,” she said. “It was terrifying; you’re thinking ‘I don’t know which way to go, will she keep going?’. She was probably thinking ‘What are you doing up there; why are we doing circles?’! I do truly believe that if we had gone on, I’d have given it my best and so would she, but I think it would have been dangerous. Everything happens for a reason.”

    Holly added that it was particularly annoying as the reins were fairly new, bought for this season.

    “I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone else but it was just one of those things,” she said. “It makes me think should I go round with a spare pair of reins in future! But there was nothing I could have done, and she definitely didn’t do anything wrong. We live to fight another day.”

    Holly said she has high hopes for “Bennie”, who is in her third season of eventing and “could be a good one”, Holly said.

    “She’s definitely one of a kind, and she’s got quite a little following,” she said. “On paper she’s about 75% blood, but she moves and jumps like a warmblood and gallops like a thoroughbred. I’ve got big hopes for her — and she’ll have a new set of reins before her next event!”

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