“I won’t miss that sick feeling in my stomach on Badminton and Burghley’s cross-country morning!”
A viewer of the clinic in Scotland where a widely shared video of Mark Todd was recorded has spoken out to give a fuller picture of what happened.
The man, who preferred to remain anonymous, is a riding professional who was there to accompany a rider in the lesson preceding the one in question, and stayed to attend the following session. He sent a report of his sightings to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which is investigating the incident.
He said H&H there was a small group of “grassroots runners” in the next session.
“Mark explained what they were going to do in general, but at that point he also asked if any of the riders had anything specific to deal with,” he said. “The girl involved in this investigation made it clear that she had no problem with her horse entering water or jumping fences into water, but she had a specific problem with her horse jumping off steps or falling into water, and that she would like him to. focus on that, and he said yes.
The viewer said the clinic went well; other than “strange pilot error”, “nothing remarkable” happened. Spectators eventually followed the runners to the pool complex, where none of the versions of the video circulating online show everything that happened.
“[Mark] went through a long process, ensuring the horse became more and more confident and relaxed by repetitively asking the rider to enter/exit the water at different points and very gradually increasing the level of difficulty to support at both horse and rider confidence,” the viewer wrote. in his report to the BHA. “Once this is manifestly realized, [Mark] focused on that person’s specific problem. »
The viewer said that Mark had given the rider so much time, going very gradually from walking through the water on a shallow incline to galloping up and down a steeper incline, that “from the viewer’s point of view it almost became a little annoying”.
He added: “The horse was happy and willing at all times.”
In the report, he said: “On first approach to the water step, the horse began to slow down and show signs of reluctance. [Mark] at this place was nearby, holding a small branch that he had picked up in a bush. As it became apparent that the horse was not going to keep moving forward, he helped the rider persuade her horse to move forward by waving the stick and making noise and because of this the horse skipped the small step in the water and a successful first result. was reached.
“The runner was then advised by [Mark] to return to the same spot and jump into the water from the same point, the horse jumped into the water without hesitation, showing increasing levels of confidence, at this stage [Mark] was in the background to offer support if needed, but he maintained a healthy and independent distance.
The report adds that there was a third attempt to break the bank, in a different location, “in an effort to solidify the trust levels of horse and rider as a partnership.”
“On approaching on this occasion, the rider ‘froze’ and became completely ineffective and the horse stopped,” the report said. “At this point the trainer got involved and supported the rider by persuading and bringing the horse forward from behind to overcome the lack of confidence in his abilities that had presented itself at this point. persuasion, a positive result was achieved as the horse again jumped into the pool complex.
The viewer said there were 20-25 people watching and none “expressed the slightest form of concern”.
“My view was that it wasn’t fun to watch, but Mark was specifically asked to fix this and fix it, and my view is that’s exactly what he did. , and he did it without any anger or aggression,” he said. said, adding that the horse showed no signs of fear or anxiety, and the rider appeared “over the moon, delighted” afterwards. The cheers that increased as the horse jumped can be heard on the video.
The riders then all moved on to another jump complex, the viewer said.
“The horse looked happy; confident and relaxed and showed absolutely no signs that his well-being had been compromised in any way,” he added.
“Mark did what he did, he didn’t enjoy it and he was calm. The girl asked him to sort it out, which he did.
The rider said H&H she did not give Mark permission to hit her horse. She confirmed that he first took her through easier options in the water, but the jump in question was the first time he had faced the ‘biggest bank’.
“I can’t comment on my constituency,” she said. “It probably wasn’t the most effective. I never claimed to be a horseman but that’s why I sought instruction.
“I think anyone watching the video can decide for themselves if my horse was showing signs of fear, and you can’t argue with what you see with your own eyes.”
The rider said she was happy when the horse jumped, but that was because she didn’t realize ‘the situation he jumped around’, and didn’t know he had been hit until until she watches the video later.
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Credit: Peter Nixon
“When he finished his test, he put his head down, shook his head and the whole bridle came off”
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