“I took the rider confidence course on Wednesday 20th April with clear objectives.
On Saturday 23rd April I was entered into the Silver Spur (a steeplechase of 2.5 miles over 20 hedges and 3 open ditches, in a field of 32 horses with an extremely high fall rate) and I needed to control my butterflies and wanted experience with falling so that I could ride boldly and fast into the fences with confidence.
The course was fantastic, Karl and Zana are both excellent instructors and I drove home from the course grinning at the prospect of the adventure I would have on my horse Claude.
On the day of the race I was calm and collected and quietly confident, I knew that myself and my horse were as fit as we could be, had been training for a long while and the butterflies had gone - from just hoping I would get round I knew that I would ride hard and was truly in it to win it, If I did come off, no big deal I now had the tools to cope.
Claude was amazing and flew the hedges and I was smiling with exhilaration, then unfortunately a horse went down in front of me so I gave Claude a huge kick and he extended to jump the horse as well, as he did so I felt a tremor go through him and knew something was wrong.
Thanks to the training from Karl I did not panic, as he started to fall on landing, which would have been disastrous for him, me and the 20 or so horses behind me I kicked and kicked and rode him back up again and out of the field. Unfortunately I was now heading for the spectators and it was clear we were on borrowed time. Still not panicking I was able to yell for the spectators to scatter and call out for the vet whilst bailing out from my collapsing horse!
On the ground and unhurt I was able to leap up and attend to my horse who had suffered a pulmonary embolism, dramatic but not necessarily fatal. Thankfully Claude is fine thanks to everyone's swift action.
No one could have scripted what happened to me on 23rd April but everybody was amazed by how calm and fast thinking I was and that is thanks to Karl.
Taking the rider confidence course was the best thing I ever did and ensured that a situation that had the potential to be breathtakingly disastrous is instead a dramatic anecdote with happy smiles at the end!
I am recommending this course to everyone that I ride with, best money I have ever spent.
The Countess of Denbigh (Suzy)"