Jonty Evans makes his eventing comeback at Smiths Lawn: ‘I was lucky to ride Art, he loved it’

Jonty Evans, the Irish rider who suffered a serious head injury in a cross-country fall last June, competed in the open novice section at the British Eventing horse trials at Smiths Lawn, Berkshire, today (Monday, 5 August).

“Event organiser Tissie Reason, British Eventing and Eventing Ireland have been amazing,” Jonty told H&H. “I saw Yogi Breisner a while ago and and he assessed my riding. I entered the event, but Tissie was good enough to keep it on the quiet.”

Jonty’s entry was therefore not shown on the entries website bdwp, although he does now appear on the results.

The first two phases went well for Jonty and Cooley Rorkes Drift (“Art”), his 2016 Olympic horse on whom he secured the ride through crowdfunding the year before his accident. The pair scored 28.3 in the dressage and showjumped clear.

“I was pretty rusty being back in a dressage arena, but it went well,” said Jonty. “He helped me out in the jumping, I rode forward and he jumped round.”

Unfortunately the fairytale ended there when Jonty had a fall at fence 14, the water, across country. Neither Jonty nor Art was injured.

“We jumped in and he spooked at the water and I lost a stirrup,” he explained. “We jumped out and I lost balance, so I pulled up to halt and slid off the side. I tried really hard to stay on!”

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Although annoyed by the result, Jonty said he “very much enjoyed” the round as far as he went.

“I was lucky to be riding Art — he was great and was loving it. It was good fun,” he said.

Jonty thinks he will enter another event.

“It’s difficult to say — I want a little while to think about it and how it feels,” he said. “But I feel like there was enough to be positive about.”

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