Top hunter rider Peter Pletcher has been sidelined for at least four weeks following a back injury.
After training Kirklen Petersen and Elizabeth Foster’s Magical Diamond to the grand green pony hunter championship (filling in for Tommy Serio who couldn’t attend the competition) at USEF Pony Finals, Pletcher flew from Lexington, Ky., back to Magnolia, Texas. He planned to squeeze in a week of preparation at his PJP Farm heading into the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, Aug. 19-20 in Lexington.
“On Wednesday at Pony Finals he started having a lot of lower back pain, but he didn’t think too much about it,” said PJP assistant trainer and barn manager Danny Arendt. “On Thursday he rode a bunch and wasn’t feeling great. By Friday he jumped a jump, and his back just went.”
The doctors at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, diagnosed Pletcher, 51, with a herniated disk that slipped. He is being treated to help bring down the swelling so that the disk has room to slip back into place.
“He’s not 100 percent sure what happened,” said Ardent, Magnolia, Texas. “The doctors said it could just be wear and tear from years of riding.”
The injury means that he will have to sit out this year’s Derby Finals, where he had planned to ride five horses: Carlano, owned by Andrea Ramirez; Dominick, owned by Andrea Ramirez; Primero, owned by Sleepy P Ranch; Tell All, owned by Susan Baker, and Valobra, owned by Eva Bisso. The horses will not attend the competition.
Last year Pletcher finished 10th at Derby Finals with Tell All.
“He’s supposed to rest that entire time and do absolutely nothing, which is really hard for him,” said Arendt. “He’s a really active person, and it’s really hard for him to sit still. But everyone at our barn has been amazing, and the whole horse community has reached out and been very nice. It’s just terrible timing.”