Torn ligament survivor proves vets wrong with Royal International victory

  • A horse who was condemned to never be ridden again just 12 months ago claimed a championship title at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) on Tuesday (25 July).

    Constellation II (‘Alf’) won the Merrigan Memorial skewbald and piebald amateur championship title, ridden by his owner William Pittendrigh.

    The 10-year-old skewbald cob was injured while competing at the Scottish Horse Show last July. He was contesting a Horse of the Year Show working hunter qualifier and tore a collateral ligament at the final fence. After scanning the leg, vets warned William to be prepared for the worst.

    “Alf was on box rest for six months and I was told it was unlikely he’d ever come back into work,” said 18-year-old William, who has owned the horse for six years.

    “After the box rest I sent him to a friend who has a horse walker for five weeks. Alf was still sound when he came back so I did lots of roadwork with him, mostly walking and building up to trot.”

    Alf — fondly referred to as Alfred The Great — qualified for RIHS first time out, at the NPS Area 4 show in April. He is also through to the amateur and open maxi cobs at RIHS this week, plus the working show horse class on Sunday.

    “I haven’t had his leg rescanned yet, but I will,” added William. “He’s not lame, but I’d rather know what the ligament looks like now so that we don’t overdo it. Alf loves to hunt and if the scan is good enough he’ll hunt again in the winter.”

    William, who recently completed a level three extended diploma in horse management at Kirkley Hall, has owned Alf for six years.

    He described the championship win as “a shock”.

    “I’m beyond emotional — I just wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said. “My parents and friends were all around the ring watching and they all know how emotional it’s been getting Alf to this point because I love him so much.”

    Don’t miss the full RIHS report in next week’s H&H, on sale Thursday 3 August.

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