This week, in lieu of hanging out in a field in Gloucestershire ourselves, we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite Badminton content of years gone by, as well as some new pieces to keep the nostalgia train going strong. Today, we remember Libby Head and Sir Rockstar’s Badminton journey, originally published on May 8, 2016.
Libby Head and Sir Rockstar have now fully completed the story arc of their forthcoming Lifetime Original Movie.
The plot: shy, teenage girl meets small, rogue, down-on-its-luck off-track Thoroughbred that nobody else wants to ride for several very legitimate reasons. There’s a montage of the girl getting bucked off, repeatedly, and close-up shots of a horrified dressage judge’s face when the pair comes jigging up the centerline sideways.
But over fences the horse is a natural talent, and the girl is undeterred by his antics. With the help of her trainer, a crusty, washed-up eventing version of The Black Stallion‘s Henry Dailey, she gradually earns the horse’s respect. Suggested soundtrack: the Rocky theme song.
To the astonishment of cranky old dressage judges everywhere they begin successfully advancing up the levels. Eight years into their hard-earned relationship, the girl and her horse are faced with the biggest challenge of their life: the legendary Badminton Horse Trials, where they’ll go toe-to-toe with the best eventers in the world.
Because it wouldn’t be as powerful a story if they just waltzed overseas and blew Badminton off the map — the climax has to have a bit of suspense — they find themselves near the bottom of the scoreboard after dressage, like the good old days. (Read more.)
The cross country course is a monster, and the girl’s terror grows as she watches it swallow up competitor after competitor. But with her trusty coach at her side, she turns her attention away from the carnage: she knows what she has to do.
They leave the start box and never look back. It’s the ride of their lives, and they come home clear, a big grin on her face as they clear the final jump. Thanks to their gutsy performance they make a huge jump up the leaderboard, from 73rd to 33rd place heading into show jumping. (Read more.)
On the final day of the competition, all eyes are them as the girl and her horse trot onto the world stage. Cue dramatic music as the camera pans the crowd, hovering for a moment on an American journalist in the stands who is nervously biting her nails.
The girl gazes out upon the sea of colorful jumps as the horse picks up a canter, his dark chocolate coat glistening beneath the bright sun. They begin leaping the fences, the 18-year-old horse looking spryer than ever.
No. 1, no. 2… then a gasp from the crowd as they lose a bit of rhythm, taking down the front rail of the no. 3 oxer.
Undeterred, the pair doubles down on their effort. The horse is now jumping his heart out; the girl’s determination is written all over her face.
There’s a tense split second when they have a rub, but the pole stays in its cups, and jump by jump they make their way around the course. As they cross the finish flags a huge cheer goes up from the crowd, almost as big as the smile on the girl’s face.
Just before the credits roll there’s a teaser for the sequel. Working title: “Burghley 2016.”
Pretty great plot for a movie, right? By the way, it’s based on a true story.
We talk to Libby Head, who has just completed Badminton with her phenomenal partner Sir Rockstar, about her weekend and her plans for the future:
Libby’s crusty, washed-up trainer took a moment to recap the weekend with us well. (Just kidding! Kyle Carter is a well-groomed person who just ran a four-star himself last week at Rolex. We’re currently in negotiations with Robert Pattinson to play his role in the movie.)
Here’s Kyle after Libby’s ride:
Best of luck to Libby and Rocky as they embark upon the next chapter in their already epic story, which includes staying in Europe for the next six months and aiming for Burghley! See you guys in September.
End-of-the-day update: Libby and Rocky’s final score of 89.4 was good for 31st place overall. They also won a saddle from Worshipful Company of Saddlers for being the top placed 25 and under rider.
Go Libby. Go Rocky. Go Eventing.