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Horse recovers from fractured cranium to qualify for nationwide championship

  • Catching the eye in the 1.05m national amateur qualifier at Tillyoch Equestrian Centre, Aberdeenshire, on 17 September was the lovely gelding Firado II, ridden to great effect by Carolyn Andrews to win the class and earn a coveted ticket to the National Amateur and Veteran Championships at Aintree in November.

    The 12-year-old son of Diarado has enjoyed a very strong season with his regular rider, who has owned him since a five-year-old. But their string of top placings comes after an eight-month lay-off in which the gelding, known at home as “Wee Man”, made a remarkable recovery from a fractured skull.

    The injury was sustained while the gelding was out in the field and Carolyn suspects he jumped a five bar gate.

    “We think he had a rotational fall, landed on his head and took off up the main road,” she told H&H. “My dad was in the house at the time and heard a horse on the road; our first instinct was to check the fields and we realised it was him.”

    At first, it was thought that Firado had escaped unscathed from the incident, but when Carolyn tacked him up to ride a couple of days later, the gelding started shaking his head. Eventually, a fracture was discovered just behind the bulb of his ear.

    “They said it might not heal and they were unsure whether or not it would affect him, or if he might just be a happy hacker,” explained Carolyn. “He’s been in the top three consistently since coming back and I am just so grateful every time I have him out that he’s still enjoying what he’s doing.”

    Among the other winners at Tillyoch was Carol Wivell, who claimed the 1.10m amateur second round and 1.15m members cup with her 16-year-old mare Black Betty. Carol was keen to qualify as her 13-year-old daughter is already headed to Aintree for the 85cm final.

    “It was a bit of a last-minute decision as I’m normally too busy and competing gets put on a back-burner,” she said.

    • You can read the full report from Tillyoch, and more highlights from recent national and international showjumping events, in this week’s Horse & Hound, in the shops Thursday 29 September.

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