Millie Juleff made a remarkable comeback from breaking her leg and ankle in a fall in March to finishing fourth at Houghton Horse Trials (26-29 May) just 10 weeks later.
The 19-year-old, who is second rider to Tim Cheffings at his Devon yard, fell off a horse at home in mid-March.
“It was a horse I was riding for the first time for someone and it was just a really unlucky fall – I landed on my ankle and heard it crack,” she told H&H. “I broke a bone on the inside of my ankle and my fibula. I had two weeks in a cast, then an operation – I had to wait for ages for the swelling to go down – then I was in a boot.”
Millie was told it would be three to four months before she would be back in the saddle, but she started riding her top horse, All We Need (“Monti”), after five weeks and jumped him over small fences a week later.
“I didn’t ride anything else for ages as I only trusted him and to start with I literally sat on him and walked him round. He can be a dobbin and he was a good boy,” she said.
Millie and Monti had won an open novice on their only run of the season before the accident, at Tweseldown, but the clock was ticking if they were to achieve their qualifications in order to compete in the young rider national championships at CCI3*-L level at Houghton and keep the dream of selection for the young rider Europeans alive.
“I’m quite a determined person and still wanted it to happen, but it was obviously quite a big setback,” she said. “We travelled six hours to Richmond to get my intermediate qualification and then eight and a half to Floors Castle to do a CCI3*-S, which was crazy.”
Millie finished fourth at both Richmond and Floors. She headed to Houghton, where the pair achieved a dressage mark of 27.7 and finished on that score to pick up another fourth place.
“Floors was pretty big and technical so it was good to go there before Houghton and made me feel more confident,” she said. “Houghton wasn’t as big as Floors, but it was the longest track I’ve ever done.
“Monti and I have such a good partnership and I know him so well. He flew round the cross-country at Houghton and made it feel pretty easy. I was nervous for the showjumping but also quite confident as he’s a good jumper.”
Monti, who has been with Millie Juleff since October 2019, will now have a few quiet weeks and Millie will wait to see how the young rider selection process progresses before she decides on his next targets.
Full report from Houghton in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (issue dated 2 June).
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