From A Severed Tendon To The World Championship

Aug 11, 2022 - 8:17 AM

Herning, Denmark—Aug. 11

After 2019 the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Division 2 Final in Athens, Greece, Victoria Gulliksen was on top of the world. She’d helped the Norwegian team win the competition, qualifying them for the top league, and she put in a clear round in the Longines Grand Prix of Athens to finish seventh. She couldn’t have been more proud of her horse, Equine America Papa Roach, whom she partnered with for those finishes.

Then it all went wrong.

On the trip back to Lier, Norway, a piece of metal came loose in the plane and severed a tendon in “Papi’s” back leg badly. It was the only time Gulliksen hadn’t flown in the plane with her horse. She met him at the clinic as soon as he arrived.

“The vets said the horse was finished,” she recalled. “They said, ‘He’s never coming back; he’s done.’ ”

Back at the family farm, where she and her father, Norwegian team stalwart Geir Gulliksen, keep their horses, the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Perigueux—Zaragossa, Zeus) went out in the field for a year, then slowly started rehabbing back.

“He’s a fighter,” said Victoria, 30. “We took a very long time. We went hacking a lot in the woods—a lot just hacking. And I think for one year he didn’t see an arena. Then he came back, and we did it very, very slowly.”

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Victoria Gulliksen and Equine America Papa Roach. Shannon Brinkman Photo

One year and nine months after the injury, he returned to international competition, jumping in CSI3* classes at Vejer de la Frontera in Spain at the 1.40-meter level. He returned to the five-star level in 2021 at Sopot CSIO (Poland) where he jumped a clear round for Norway. Then she competed at the 2021 Riesenbeck FEI European Championships (Germany), where she placed eighth individually.

“Last year it was an unbelievable experience that he did Riesenbeck, so we take this year as a bonus,” she said.

And in the speed phase of the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship, going on this week from Aug. 10-14, Papi and Gulliksen put in a clean round for Team Norway and sit 31st individually.

“When I go in the ring every round is a bonus, because he was actually going to be in the field,” she said. “He means a lot to me. He’s a very good boy.”

Want more from the ECCO FEI World Championships? Click here. Check out the Sept. 5 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine for analysis from the competition.

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