‘Who falls off in the dressage!’ Rider bails out after mid-test tack malfunction

  • A rider who was at her first event since she broke her elbow “bailing out” from a horse on the road had to do the same thing again — when her bridle came off during her dressage test.

    Emily Meza-Bradford had been looking forward to her comeback, on 30 April at Port Eliot on her own Langaller Hunters Moon, having recovered from the injury she sustained last September.

    “I back horses for a living and for the first time ever, I bailed out, of a bolting horse on the road,” she said. “Rather than hit the hedge, I hit the road, smashed my elbow and couldn’t ride for six months, so I was desperate to compete.

    “I entered two horses for Port Eliot and my husband wasn’t sure but I said ‘It’ll be fine, I’m only doing the 100, what could go wrong?’!”

    Emily said her first test, on Piper II, was uneventful.

    “My horse, Beamer, can be hot-headed but she was really nice and calm,” she said. “She was going really nicely, then when we got to the free walk, she shook her head and her whole bridle fell off in front of me.

    “I had time to think ‘We were doing a really nice test and that’s that’, and then she just took off, and went at top speed towards the other dressage arena.”

    Emily tried to slow the mare down but “nothing was happening”.

    “I thought ‘Oh my god, is this really happening?’” she said. “We were heading towards the lorry park and getting faster and I again had to make a split-second decision to bail out, but thought ‘I can’t fall off on my left elbow again’.”

    Emily managed to “make a dive” off to the right, and landed unscathed, “apart from a few grass stains!”, while Beamer was caught by a friend.

    The 10-year-old mare was unhurt, and of course the other bonus was that the incident was caught on camera.

    “My daughter Milly, who’s 11, had just got her camera, and it was her first time out taking photos; she said she was running after us, stopped to take pictures, and then kept running,” Emily said. “I couldn’t believe her friend stopped filming though!

    “But who falls off in the dressage; who does that even happen to! I’d never bailed in my life so couldn’t believe it was happening again, but at least grass is more forgiving than a road, and I’ll be leaving the fly veil off in future!”

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