A DUNS rider’s Badminton Grassroots dream has come to an end after a freak accident blinded her horse.
Berwickshire High School pupil Gina Walker and her horse Ilona were one of just six eventing pairs from Scotland to qualify for next week’s prestigious Mitsubishi Grassroots Championships (May 2-3).
But the 17-year-old won’t be making the trip south after suffering a bitter blow in February, when a thorn pierced Ilona’s pupil, instantly blinding her in one eye.
It was a sad day for Gina when she got her horse in from the field on that dark and dreary night, only to find that Ilona had made contact with the one hawthorn hedge on the place, and was in some distress.
Help and advice were on hand from Liz Givens who was tending her own horse at Duns Livery at the time, and the local vet calmed Ilona and made her as comfortable as possible for the night.
Gina knew her Badminton dream was over, but that was the least of her worries as she faced having to have her beloved Ilona put down.
This was the last thing she wanted, and fortunately there was another option.
Ilona’s eye was surgically removed, and she has now been sent back to her native Ireland to stud.
The hope is, that given time, Ilona will become a mum, and there may be a foal coming back to Duns in a couple of years.
After 18 months of hard work with Ilona in the build up to Badminton - which culminated in qualification at Turnberry last September - it’s back to the drawing board for life-long horse lover Gina, but she’s determined not to let her situation get her down.
“Gina was devastated at first but she’s getting over the disappointment of missing Grassroots Badminton, and most of all having to part with Ilona,” Gina’s dad Graham told the Berwickshire News.
“I’m so proud of her and how she handled the whole thing, she was upset at first but she’s not letting it get her down.
“Her sense of humour is coming back and she has re-name Ilona ‘Oneeyed Iiona’, and if a foal ever does come back it will be called ‘Racket’ in memory of Badminton!”