Top British showjumper to miss Hickstead after freak fall

Showjumper Holly Smith has had to withdraw from Britain’s Hickstead Nations Cup squad after breaking her collarbone in a freak fall on the flat.

The Leicester-based rider had surgery on Tuesday (9 July) to repair the injury, which happened while she was riding out at home.

“I was riding along a piece of grass around the farm on a slight camber when the horse suddenly slipped like a rug had been pulled out from underneath it — the ground has been hard and we’d had some rain on top,” explained Holly, whose horse was unharmed in the fall.

“It knocked me out for five minutes and when I woke up, my collarbone wasn’t where it should have been.”

As a member of the BEF’s World Class programme, Holly has private medical cover, which has enabled her to be seen quickly by a surgeon.

“Pippa Bennett, our doctor [chief medical officer], knows the right type of surgeons and can send them a What’sApp of an x-ray,” Holly explained. “It happened on Saturday, on Sunday there was nothing I could do but sit there and wait, but by 9.03am on Monday I had a plan for surgery.

“It was quite a nasty break and would have needed fixing anyway or it would’ve been floating forever,” she added. “They have put an artificial bone graft in, in case it helps it heal faster, but I am not in any great rush.”

Holly, who represented Britain at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, is also a strong contender for this year’s European Championships in Rotterdam (19-25 Aug). She hopes to be back in the saddle in as little as two weeks, providing a minimum of disruption to her campaign.

“Collarbones heal fairly quick anyway – of all the bones to break it was probably the best one!” she added.

Holly and her top ride Heart’s Destiny helped the British team to second place in 2018’s Hickstead’s Longines FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain and had been earmarked for a place in the squad again this year. They have already jumped Nations Cups at La Baule and St Gallen this season.

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“It’s a shame to miss it as the Royal International is my favourite show of the year, but there will be more opportunities,” she said. “I also had my first two Global Champions Tour (GCT) places coming up at Chantilly this week and then London — which I might still do — but sometimes these things turn out for the best.

“To be fair, it’s been one-and-a-half years since I hurt anything and for someone who rides as many horses and jumps as many fences as I do, that’s not too bad,” added Holly, who has previously had time-out with broken legs in 2017 and 2012.

The 30-year-old rider now hopes to re-route from Hickstead to a Nations Cup spot at Dublin.

“He jumped well at Dublin last year so we might have a bit of a reshuffle,” she said. “We’ll still be aiming for the Euros after that.”

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