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‘I’m tiny however he is a mild large’: decided showjumper with spinal illness wins championship qualifier

  • Showjumper Phoebe Ewens surmounted a run of bad luck to finish first and fourth in the recent Blue Chip Championships Diamond qualifier (2 October) at Penderosa Equestrian Centre, Newport, with Daniel Bridge’s Quantum Trost and her own Romans.

    Twenty-five-year-old Phoebe has endured several open spinal surgeries for degenerative disc disease — which is likely to give her just five years left in the saddle.

    Recently, Phoebe has also had to retire her best horse with navicular, and the mare bought to replace him stumbled and damaged her deep digital flexor tendon.

    After the retirement of her horses, Phoebe’s friend Daniel stepped in to offer her the ride on 18.1hh Quantum Trost (Quinn).

    “He’s the nicest horse but I wasn’t sure it would work as I am tiny, but he’s a gentle giant,” Phoebe said. “He is so kind — my mum has had a hip replacement and she can handle him, he’s so easy to do.”

    ‘I’m just trying to do as much as I can, while I can’

    Phoebe, who was told by the NHS that she could never ride again, said her spinal problems have made her more cautious of a fall and affected her confidence, but Quinn is helping her step back up the levels.

    “After my previous surgery, it was supposed to be about 10 years before the back collapses again but mine only lasted two. The disease in my spine is very fast-moving. I am just trying to do as much as I can, while I can,” said Phoebe, can’t feel her fingertips or her right leg below the knee.

    “Because of having to retire my good horse, and the impact of all of my back problems, I’ve lost my confidence,” she said. “I have been able to beg, steal and borrow horses before on loan and on lease, but they have never been horses that are easy. I can take Quinn back up the heights as he’s the first horse I feel I can go into a newcomers on and not be sick — I know the consequences of something happening to me.”

    Phoebe’s fourth-placed ride was also returning to the ring following an injury.

    “She did her check ligament just before Christmas and I’d been putting off bringing her to a show for ages as with my bad luck I didn’t want to upset the leg again,” Phoebe said. “My mum said ‘you’ve got to do it at some point’. I wasn’t even expecting a clear, so I am really pleased.”

    You can read the full round-up of this week’s national shows and the Horse of the Year Show in this week’s magazine, in the shops Thursday 13 October.

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