Claire Lomas and Peter Atkins (all photos used with Peter’s kind permission)
Peter Atkins has settled in quite nicely in England by now, and we caught up after he’d joined Claire Lomas on a portion of her Marathon walk around London, “I caught up with Claire and she looked at me and said, ‘What is this, a race?!'” Although physically pretty knackered after hobbling quite some distance, it’s the most upbeat Peter’s sounded since he broke his leg, and he told me meeting Claire had completely changed his attitude and perspective,
“I probably only walked about half a mile with Claire, although in total to and from the Undergound stations I probably did about four miles. I was trying to get some tips off Claire’s physio who was walking with her for exercises I could do to strengthen my leg, and first of all she told me horse riders never heed her advice anyway, and then she said I’d probably been on my leg more than enough for one day, and that I should I should head home! As it was getting late anyway and I’d been thinking about leaving because I didn’t want to get stuck in rush hour on the Tube with my crutches I did pay attention to her!”
Claire had some wonderful company today including riders Mark Todd, Bettina Hoy and Blyth Tait, and Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee Lord Sebastian Coe, and London 2012 Eventing Manager Alec Lochore. Companions over the past ten days have included Clare Balding, Ben Fogle, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Tim Henman and many others. In a travesty of what the London Marathon should represent, officials have told Claire that because her finishing time will be longer than the 24 hours required, they will not be able to recognise her monumental achievement, and she will not receive the same medal that all the other competitors received upon completion. Although there isn’t a medal big or shiny enough to honour Claire adequately, I think it’s absolutely disgusting and I see no reason why they can’t bend the rules in this instance. Perhaps public opinion will sway them, we’ll keep you posted.
Henny and Drake in the field at Maizey Manor
Meanwhile, Henny and his stablemate FireDrake are settling in very well in the bucolic Wiltshire countryside, perhaps even better than Peter!
“Henny prefers the cooler weather to the heat so he’s probably quite happy, but I’m not overly happy with the weather and the temperature like everybody else, because it’s pretty damn cold! Almost every day we’ve been here has been like our worst winter’s day at home, and it’s supposed to be Spring! Maizey Manor is just amazing though, it’s got a really good feeling, great gallops, Bettina’s girls are great, everyone there seems really cool. It’s a really good place for him, I couldn’t wish for a better place. Bettina does as much as she can, she washes most of her horses off herself, tacks them up if she has time, they love her, she really treats her horses as friends and special people so it’s really, really cool.”
Bettina galloping Henny (in the rain!)
Henny is in full training with Bettina up until Luhmuhlen, while Peter who still admits to feeling rather useless with one leg, will come back to the States to teach and clinic while he can’t ride. If you’d like to schedule a clinic with Peter, he’ll be on the East Coast traveling between Kentucky, Indiana, Virginian and Pennsylvania in the next three weeks, and he’d love to try and squeeze you in. He intends to be riding again by the time he returns to England at the end of the month, and he told me that although Bettina will be away at Bramham competing right before Luhmuhlen, she is hoping to compete in the CIC*** there, so she’ll be available to help him in Germany. Peter’s also hoping that his wife, Amy and son, Owen will also be able to join him out there too. Peter’s Badminton fund rolled right over and turned into a Luhmuhlen fund, if you’d like to help him, please donate here. I couldn’t help but wonder what ran through his head when he heard the news that Badminton had been cancelled, and he answered my question without any hesitation,
“I was really depressed for everyone else. I lost my Badminton when I broke my leg and for everyone else to lose theirs just really sucked. Not just the horse side of it, but think of all the vendors, especially the smaller ones that depend on Badminton to make up their income for the year to some extent, I feel just as bad for them as all the eventers that have nowhere to go with their horses.”
Oh the bloody British weather, and horses, horses – it’s all character building stuff as my mother would constantly tell me. Let’s hope Peter and Henny make it to Luhmuhlen, and if any of those London Marathon officials have a shred of sense let’s hope they award Claire a medal at the very least. Go Claire, Peter, and Go Eventing!