An eventer who has become known as “the swimming pool horse” since his rescue from watery depths this spring has come bouncing back to achieve a top-10 finish.
Laura Pratt’s Arthur’s Masterpiece found himself in a watery predicament in April, when he made his way from where he was supposed to be — to where he wasn’t.
Vet nurse Laura told H&H that as the yard on which she kept Arthur had closed to owners during lockdown, she managed to find Arthur a field in her village.
As the grass was not abundant, he spent his days in an area of grass behind her home, fenced off from the garden, and the swimming pool.
Then, one Sunday afternoon in April, Laura heard a yelp from her boyfriend’s mother.
“You know that moment when you know something’s about to happen?” she said. “I don’t know how he got through, but as I ran round, I saw him trot off the edge and into the pool.
“You know what horses are like in a new field; he was prancing about merrily and managed to prance straight off the edge.”
Laura praised her non-horsey boyfriend Tristan, a full-time firefighter, who, pausing only to throw his phone out of his pocket, jumped straight into the water to go to Arthur’s aid.
He managed to pull the pool cover off and encourage Arthur towards the shallow end, so he could stand.
“We were lucky,” Laura said. “Of course, we were unlucky he went into the pool but lucky he went in the deep end, as in the shallow end, he’d have been much more likely to do himself damage.”
Laura “called in the troops”. Her boyfriend’s firefighting colleagues, who “ticked him off” thoroughly for jumping into the pool with Arthur, Laura’s vet colleague from Tyrrells Equine Clinic and local farmers were all on hand, prepared to put hay bales into the pool if needed to make a ramp.
Arthur was sedated heavily as the crews used straps and low-friction plastic boards to pull and slide him out of the pool.
“There were 10 burly men and it took all 10 of them,” Laura said, who thanked all those involved in the rescue, adding that some equine antics followed as she and the vet tried to keep Arthur safe as he came round from the sedation.
A week’s pain relief followed, and three weeks’ rest, during which time Laura used the techniques she had learned for her degree in veterinary physiotherapy, and in May, Arthur was allowed to return to work.
Laura took things slowly, but after a successful cross-country schooling session, entered Little Downham as her first event since 2017.
“My mum and I were beside ourselves when he went straight into the water when we went schooling,” she said. “It had been in both our minds that he might have an issue with water but there were no issues at all.”
The pair then jumped clear showjumping and across country to finish in 10th place, on their dressage score of 35.5, in the BE90 at Little Downham on 1 August.
“The scores go online and we were driving home, and were stopped to wait for a train at a level crossing, when the final results went up,” Laura said.
“I was so happy, and we had so much fun that day. When I saw my dressage score, I grinned from ear to ear, then to jump double clear was so exciting. It was just a brilliant day.
Enjoy some of our favourite updates from equestrian social media channels during the past week
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
“We haven’t competed for a long time, as it’s expensive and life got in the way so 2020 was going to be our comeback year.
“Then, after Covid and everything, to get an event was amazing and to have him run so well was wonderful, I couldn’t have asked any more of my horse.”
Arthur is still living in his field in the village, but not in the area behind the pool.
“There’s another fence round the pool now so it’s completely separate, but I don’t think my brain could get to the point of him being back in there,” said Laura. “He’s known locally as the swimming pool horse now!”
We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.