A teenager who nearly died after being kicked in the face as a child has defied the odds to qualify for an affiliated dressage championships.

Tabitha Pegg, 16, was playing with her brother 13 years ago when Tigger, her Welsh section A rescue pony, spooked and kicked out, catching her in the face.

She broke her nose, cheekbone and skull in the accident. Tabitha was rushed to Coventry Hospital, where she needed four hours of surgery.

“I nearly died because the fracture was so close to my brain,” recalls Tabitha.

Afterwards she spent months in intensive care recovering and still has a slightly “wonky nose” today.

The accident didn’t stop her riding for long and she was soon back on board.

But a few years later, Tabitha developed pains in her knees and ankles and the doctors told her that getting on and off a pony could make it worse.

“They said if I didn’t stop riding I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 25,” said Tabitha.

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Despite the warnings, she continued to pursue her showing career successfully before buying Flash, an unbroken 17.2hh Dutch warmblood.

The mare had nearly died from peritonitis and was under-muscled when she went to try her, but has proved to be “the best move up into horses one could ever have”.

On 22 September, competing at Epworth Equestrian in Lincolnshire, the pair came third in the intro, as well as being placed in the prelim.

The combination have now qualified for the Kent & Masters Quest National Championships at Bury Farm in Buckinghamshire (26-28 October) to compete in the intro finals.

Always looking to improve and progress, Tabitha and Flash contested their first novice at Nine Acres Equestrian Centre on 30 September, coming fifth on a score of 64.19%.

My dream is to get to grand prix, but we’ve got a little way to go,” admits Tabitha.

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