A rider who was kicked in the face at an eventing trot-up and needed 20 stitches is calling for all competitors to wear hats at horse inspections.
“I will be wearing my hat at every trot-up from now on,” said Rebecca Page. “I think they should be compulsory, especially at the lower international levels as the horses aren’t experienced with that sort of set-up.
“It doesn’t take a lot to spook them — they’re live animals, we can never truly say we have full control. It was a freak accident, but it’s something I could easily see happening again as there are so many horses in such a small space.
“It could have been so much worse and quite frankly I am lucky just walking away with 20 stitches and a scar on my forehead.”
Remarkably, Rebecca went on to complete her CCI* after the accident, which happened when she was kicked by her ride Liberty Bell II at the first horse inspection at Houghton last month.
“It was only our second event at this level so we are by no means professional — we both still find the atmosphere of the international events very overwhelming,” said the 19-year-old.
“The trot-up is the place you least expect accidents — I did not expect to be laid out surrounded by people, waiting for an ambulance to take me to Kings Lynn hospital.
“By no means was Libby being nasty, she just got excited and bucked and caught me on the head. I suffered a 10cm laceration down to my skull just above my right eyebrow. I don’t know how I wasn’t knocked out and I haven’t suffered any headaches — it was an absolute miracle.”
Rebecca’s mother Sarah trotted up Liberty Bell, who passed with no problems, but the rider admitted the first thing she said after the accident was: “Well, that’s the end of my one-star!” But she was wrong.
‘I didn’t think I’d actually be riding the course’
Having been given the all-clear by the hospital, Rebecca also had to be checked by the on-site medic at the event, Nicola Wallace-King, who was happy to sign the rider off to compete.
“It was pretty swollen the next morning, but I got my hat on and, while it was by no means comfortable, it was definitely bareable,” she said. “I was delighted even to be allowed to do my dressage test, but for Libby to do the best test she has ever done was even better.”
The pair scored 53.5.
“I walked the cross-country several times — it was tough, but I didn’t think I would actually be riding it,” said Rebecca. “I had to be assessed again on Saturday so it wasn’t until my last walk that morning that it kicked in that I was actually going to ride round my toughest track to date with 20 stitches in my head — nervous would have been an understatement.
“But I learnt that day that my little Libby should never be underestimated — we went clear and inside the time.”
Rebecca made it through the final horse inspection without drama, wearing a hat.
“Showjumping is both of our weakest phase,” she went on. “Libby was tired and it was a big track. We never expected a clear. However, Libby had other things in mind and jumped a foot perfect round to bring home a double clear.
“It was a huge achievement and no words can describe what it feels like to get this result on a horse you have produced yourself. It was an amazing end to the week that had the most horrific start. I was very lucky and I cannot express my thanks enough to the people that made it possible for me to ride.
“Against all the odds, we completed Houghton Horse Trials with a double clear to finish 33rd out of 76 starters.”