TEENAGE prospect Alexandra Cornwell has fond memories of Skipton Horse Trials.
For that was the venue for her comeback last August after a horrific fall left her with facial injuries and sidelined from riding for two months.
In June last year, Cornwell, 17, was riding 17.2hh Playdun – an eight-year-old dun gelding nicknamed Jake – when she suffered a bad fall.
She suffered a fractured cheekbone, broken nose and was left concussed.
So to get back in the saddle at Skipton was a huge moment, not only in getting over the mental challenge of competing again, but regaining her confidence.
“Skipton was our first event back together last August after I had a bad fall at the beginning of June, where I broke my nose, fractured my cheekbone and was heavily concussed, which stopped me from riding for two months,” she explained.
“Unfortunately, due to a rather severe concussion I cant remember anything between going to bed the night before and then waking up in hospital wondering what on earth had happened.
“Apparently Jake had been going really well and had jumped a rather large ditch pallisade but was quite ‘sticky’ over it so my instructor told me to have another go, but he hesitated, pitched in an extra stride but didnt quite make it fully over the fence with his back leg so consequently I fell off and had concussion, a very smashed up broken nose and a fractured cheekbone.
“Following this, I had to take two months off of riding during my Year 11 summer holidays and also missed one of my GCSE biology exams.
“We chose to go to Skipton in August as we had heard from friends that it was a lovely event which was a big and bold galloping course, which really suits Jake’s way of going – being built at 17.2hh his large stride is definitely one of his strong points.
“We ended up with a 28 dressage, one down showjumping and a lovely clear cross country inside the time. I can’t wait to be bringing my mum’s horse here this June (Under Wraps) in the BE90 for hopefully what will be another succesful, friendly and fantastic event!”
Cornwell and Playdun will be the programme cover for this month’s Skipton Horse Trials, on June 27-28. A second event is held later in the summer on August 8-9.
“The hedge pictured (on the programme) was similar to the ditch palisade brush that I fell at so when we jumped it, it definitely gave me a huge confidence boost to be on the other side in one piece!” added Cornwell
She and Playdun eventually finished eighth –their best eventing test of last season.
Last summer saw the horse trials celebrate their 25th anniversary, and entries are on the increase.
With 120 volunteers a day needed to staff the British Eventing (BE) affiliated competition, just off the A59 near Skipton, the logistical planning is daunting.
The weekend includes the same horse-riding disciplines of dressage, show-jumping and cross-country which can be seen at the Olympics, the FEI World Equestrian Games and international events such as Badminton and Burghley.
“The horse trials celebrated their 25th anniversary last year which was an amazing achievement and the two events went really well; helped by the kind weather,” said Skipton Horse Trials’ organiser Michael Bower.
“Over the last few years the event has been invested in and a lot of work put into improving the cross-country and the presentation of the site.
“This has resulted in increased entries, around 600 over the weekend, and positive feedback from the professionals, including Jeanette Brakewell and amateur riders alike,” added Bower.