Tina Cook is facing a “race against time” to be fit to ride at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (2-6 May) after dislocating her shoulder in a fall at the Barefoot Retreats Burnham Market Horse Trials on Friday (30 March).
Tina fell at fence five on her European Championships team gold medallist Billy The Red.
“It was rider error — lots of the time we get away with it and sometimes we don’t,” she told H&H. “I had already ridden two horses in the advanced and I hadn’t ridden this early combination as well as I would like on them. I was overkeen to get it right on Billy and I got him too close to the first of the double of corners and he caught a knee. He fell and fired me into the ground and I landed on the point of my shoulder.”
Tina described the injury as “the most painful thing that’s ever happened to me”.
“Pain relief didn’t even touch it,” she said. “They took me to hospital and knocked me out so they could put it back in again. It’s gone back in fine, so now it’s a case of healing time and a race against time to get it right for Badminton. It’s something a lot of jockeys and event riders have done and everyone says it’s the most painful thing to happen and they are right — it was unbearable.”
Medical advice is that Tina should keep her shoulder absolutely still for at least 10 days.
“The dislocating stretches all the ligaments around it so you have to give them time to retract and then start moving it. I’ve got lots of support from the Lottery-funded doctors and physios, so everyone will be giving me every opportunity to get back for Badminton.”
Tina has her arm strapped to her side, but says she is “fine” apart from her shoulder and is getting on with lots of boring jobs such as tidying the house and sorting out her office while she is laid up.
“It’s frustrating but it happens and you’ve got to get on with it. I’m being positive,” she said. “The good news is that Billy The Red is absolutely fine and I had two good runs on Calvino II and Star Witness before that.
“Annoyingly on paper I was given an elimination on Star Witness for going the wrong side of the flag at the water, but I’ve got a massive bruise on my left knee so I know I caught the flag with my left knee. But I jumped straight off Star Witness and on to Billy The Red and then, because I was in the ambulance after my fall, I didn’t get the chance to object.”
Tina is preparing all three of her top horses for Badminton and will decide nearer the time which two she will run as riders can only start on two mounts. She may take the third horse — or indeed two horses if she can’t ride at Badminton — to the German four-star at Luhmühlen in June.
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The rider said she will play it by ear how she gets her top horses worked while she is out of action.
“Because two of the three had good runs they can have an easy week and they are all up on their galloping,” she explained. “We’ll have to see from then on — I’m lucky to live on a hill so the girls at home can keep them ticking over. I hope I’ll be back on board in a couple of weeks.
“Billy is a good horse and he would only need one run somewhere just before Badminton if I’m going to be fit enough to ride. I’ll only take these proven four-star horses to Badminton if I’m fit enough to perform at my very best.”
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