The European Para Dressage Championships ended in drama yesterday when the final rider of the competition was eliminated after her test due to blood being found in the horse’s mouth.
Belgium’s Michele George completed her grade V freestyle test on the seven-year-old stallion Fusion OLD, with a provisional score of plus-71% proving to be enough for the bronze medal behind Britain’s Sophie Wells and The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar. However, the steward conducting the post-test inspection found fresh blood in the Furst Romancier son’s mouth, leading to elimination.
“When we finished the test, there was a rose pink spot in the corner of his mouth — it’s an old injury, which means it could maybe happen again,” explained Michele, who took freestyle gold in Rio, riding FBW Rainman.
“I have so many questions — they took pictures and it looked horrible on a big screen, but of course I would never ride an injured horse. It’s a very sad situation.”
A statement on behalf of the FEI read: “The chief steward and technical delegate also checked the horse, and it was then examined by an FEI veterinarian. The judge at C, Jeanette Wolfs (NED) was then informed and the horse was eliminated from the competition.”
More from the Europeans…
An inexperienced British team clinch gold to maintain their unbeaten streak
Britain adds two freestyle golds to its para dressage haul in Gothenburg
Julie Payne claims a second individual gold medal for Britain, with Sophie Wells taking silver
Michele and Fusion’s form had improved over the course of the championship, and this was their highest scoring test of the three days.
“I was pleased with him as we have only been together for three and a half months, and he has been improving every day,” said the rider, who has long been one of Sophie Wells’ main challengers in the grade V division.
“I’m so sad, but it is what it is and I’ll be back to fight – I’ll come back even stronger.”
Find the full results and standings from the European Championships here.
Don’t miss the 31 August issue of Horse & Hound, with full reports, analysis and expert commentary from the dressage, para dressage and showjumping European Championships in Gothenburg.