When faced with every event rider’s worst nightmare, Paul Tapner had to resort to grabbing his horse’s browband after his bit snapped just before a fence in the advanced cross-country at Aston-le-Walls.
The 2010 Badminton winner was riding Bonza King of Rouges (King) (pictured) in the advanced on Friday (21 July) when the incident took place.
Paul and King had completed a 29.6 dressage, clear showjumping and were reaching the end of the cross-country course.
“I was having a great ride — King puts a lot of effort into his cross-country,” the UK-based Australian rider told H&H.
“It was going really well. We had a great dressage and showjumping. I was planning on winning, as I had already done in an earlier class.
“King was getting very strong towards the end of the course. We went to make a turn to fence 20, a corner, but he didn’t turn and I had nothing in my hand [as the bit had broken].
“We were going at a fair rate of knots so it was rather scary.
“We were totally fine after the initial panic, when I thought, ‘this is going to end in disaster’.
“You never know what will happen or how the horse will react. Some will panic and run blind — I thought he would do that to be honest.
“I managed to relax the horse and held on to the browband and managed to stop.
“He pulled up with a dazzled look on his face and I jumped off as quickly as I could.”
Paul, who is digital technical coordinator of the Event Rider Masters, said both he and King were unhurt.
“The bit came out of his mouth cleanly, there was absolutely no injury,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s made any difference to the horse at all. He was just a bit bewildered.
“I thought it was going to be a win but it wasn’t to be.”
Paul said Myler, the manufacturer of the broken bit, got in touch soon after the incident.
“They have already contacted me with great concern to investigate it and asked me to send back the bit,” he added.
“They are being proactive. In over 20 years of event riding I have never experienced this before, so it’s a bit of a concern.”
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Rich Mreen, president of Toklat Originals which manufactures Myler bits, told H&H it was “very sorry that this incident occurred and are truly thankful that neither Paul nor Bonza King of Rouges was injured”.
“Although extremely rare we take this kind of incident very seriously,” Mr Mreen added.
“Our UK representative has been in contact with Paul to arrange the return of the bit for our inspection and evaluation of the breakage.
“The Myler brothers pride themselves on building a reliable, quality product and have been a trusted brand for over 25 years with hundreds of thousands of bits used worldwide.”
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