Will and Twiz schooling with Bettina early this morning
There are still more questions than answers as to what exactly happened to Twizzel during the warmup for his dressage test with Will Coleman at Burghley this morning. I spoke with Will, who said that it happened "as fast as a lightning bolt." One moment he was working in the left half-pass and the next moment Twizzel was lame. With no time to figure out what the issue might be, Will had to withdraw Twizzel just a few minutes before their ride. Will said that he has decided along with Twizzel's owner Jim Wildasin to bring Twizzel back to the United States for a full investigation with his regular vet Kevin Keane since this will be such an important work-up. I was relieved to hear Will say that at this point the situation doesn't look dire and he still feels like Twizzel can hopefully get to a three-day this fall, which would give Twizzel a shot at the Olympics next year.
If there were two things I was hoping for over these last two big high performance weeks it was that Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison would make the Pan American Games squad and that Twizzel would be able to give Burghley his best shot. Twizzel has been one of the most talented horses in the US for several years, but bad luck has prevented him from showing his best. The last instance of bad luck before today struck at Rolex when Twizzel was tied for 5th and having a brilliant cross-country round when he left from a perfect spot at the double-corners and hung a leg just enough to pop Will off his back. From that moment Will set his sights on Burghley and he has spent all summer traveling between training Twizzel in the UK and keeping his program going back in the US. Will said that he worked Twizzel with Bettina Hoy, who has been coaching the US riders on the flat at Burghley, this morning and the horse looked great. The same was true for their warmup, right up until everything went bad.
You learn a lot about people when you speak to them in the tough moments. From talking with Will I got the impression that he was most of all disappointed that Twizzel wouldn't have a chance to show what a great horse he is this weekend. Despite this morning's heartbreak, Will expressed a tremendous sense of perspective and consideration. Will explained:
"Life doesn't owe anyone anything and you just have to make the most of the opportunities that life gives you. I feel bad for Jim Wildasin, I feel bad for Land Rover and the US Team, and I feel bad for my owners, sponsors, and everyone back at home who has helped me to make this possible. I also feel bad for the horse, he just seems to have an unlucky cloud hanging over him. Sometimes you can do all the right things in eventing and there's no guarantee that it's going to come off."
Will felt like Twizzel had a great preparation for Burghley and was at the top of his game coming into the event. That pair at the top of their game can win any event in the world, but they are going to have to wait until next time to have that chance.
The US is down to 5 horses at Burghley. Boyd and Neville have just finished their test with a 49.7 and moved into 9th with 10 rides still to come today. William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk are the current leaders. Go Twiz.