Rebecca Braitling is recovering at home in Paso Robles, California, following an accident at the Twin Rivers CCI and Horse Trials on April 14.
Braitling was riding Lauren Burnell’s Walterstown Don, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Don Juan De La Bouverie—Walterstown Treacy VII), on the CIC*** cross-country course when he collapsed and died of unknown causes between fences 18 and 19.
The 37-year-old rider was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and was diagnosed with a small fracture to her C7 vertebra.
“It’s stable, so they let me walk out that afternoon,” said Braitling. “I bruised my lung, and the rest of me is pretty bruised up. It should be a little bit of time out of the saddle. I was so lucky. It could have been really bad; obviously it was bad enough, but I was really lucky it wasn’t at a fence.”
Braitling took over the ride on the experienced “Walter” last year while Burnell was pregnant.
“He’s probably the best cross-country horse I’ve ever sat on,” Braitling said. “He was a real, ‘get out and do it,’ kind of horse. There was definitely not a lot of slowing him down.”
Braitling said they are still waiting on the final result from the necropsy.
“He felt amazing jumping around,” she said. “It was just very sudden, kind of scary like that. You would never think of something like that happening. He was having a great round.
“We’ll miss him terribly,” she continued. “He was very well-loved. I think he knew that. Everyone has been so amazing. I’ve got so much support; it’s been fantastic.”