We all know horses are fragile creatures, but Spanish dressage rider Beatriz Ferrer-Salat has shown remarkable persistence in finding a way to manage her Rio Olympics ride, Delgado.
“I bought him when he was six and he started to suffer some tendon injuries in front,” she says of the De Niro son, who is now 15. “They took longer and longer to heal — he’d do one show, then be off again, do one show, then be off again.
“In the end, his tendon broke. We had to operate and he had a year off. Two months later, the same thing happened. I decided to stop and do everything it took to make him sound.
“I started working with a chiropractor and a good blacksmith. It took almost two years to get him right. I did a lot of long reining and hacking in the woods and took everything really slowly. We started competing in March last year.”
Beatriz’s faith in the horse’s potential proved founded when the pair won the freestyle bronze at the Europeans in Aachen last year. She continues to manage him carefully.
“I only school him once or twice a week and I do a lot of hacking and working on canter tracks,” she says. “He goes to the spa and walks on the treadmill in the water.”
Looking after the horse out in Rio is a particular challenge.
“He does a couple of days work, then has a light day, then does a couple of days work, then a light day. We use iced boots and are very careful.”
The pair scored 76.863% in the special and 74.829% in the grand prix.
“I’m very happy with my horse,” she said after the special. “He was really with me. Yesterday he was distracted.”
This is the Beatriz’s fourth Games and she collected team silver and individual bronze at Athens 2004 riding Beauvalais.