Tom Crisp was fighting the pain of three broken ribs as he jumped a double clear to finish ninth on Liberty And Glory at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Tom broke the ribs in a cross-country schooling fall three weeks before the CCI5*, and it has been touch and go whether he’d be able to come.
“I am in quite a lot of pain, but it’s good pain right now,” said Tom after his clear showjumping round on the 15-year-old mare. “She’s a lovely mare who has exceeded expectations because two weeks ago I didn’t think I was even coming. Burghley is a magical place; it does wonderful things to you, and this week it was good to us.”
This was 43-year-old Tom’s ninth attempt at the Lincolnshire event, and this top-10 placing is his best result.
“In my mind it feels like I’ve won it,” says. “You ride your own competition and for me and her it felt like a win. It’s crazy. I can’t tell you the ups and downs of the past three weeks, thinking I couldn’t ride, cancelling my other horses’ national competitions and saving myself for this event. But it’s paid off. My fitness is down, as I haven’t been able to use my lungs at all, but they got a good stretch yesterday for sure.
“I threw caution to the wind, and each day I got better and better – and if there’s any horse I could have done it on it’s this little mare. She’s very true and honest.’”
‘I had to make her think everything was her idea’
Tom Crisp hasn’t always given the home-bred mare such a glowing assessment.
“She’s a quirky mare with a heck of a story behind her,” says Tom. “We bred her, and she wasn’t easy at the beginning. We were quick to try to get rid of her because she was so difficult. My wife Sophie started off with her and she battled hard for a couple of years, but I said, ‘Stop wasting your time, sell her and get something easier!’
“If you put any pressure on her, she’d say, ‘no, don’t tell me what to do’, and lie down. She wouldn’t go forward, or she’d get as far as fence three and then just stand there. But she did move and jump well, she was a talented thing even if she wasn’t initially prepared to fight. So I had to make her think everything was her idea, and once she realised it was fun and she was capable, I became just a passenger – it was all psychological. Perhaps we all need a bit of ‘crazy’ to do this.”
Tom Crisp: ‘It’s a lesson never to give up’
The alacrity with which she bounded around Derek di Grazia’s cross-country track, and her enthusiasm over the final showjumping phase, makes a mockery of her earlier nappiness.
“You wouldn’t believe it now,” Tom admits. “It’s a lesson never to give up, especially with mares. If you turn that stubborn will and channel it into your favour, you’ve got a good one, that’s the art.”
“You can’t beat a quirky mare, when you get them on side, they love their job and they make training interesting and fun,” Tom adds. “They give a whole lot more than other horses.”
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Credit: Peter Nixon
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