Aussies lose another horse on Games eve

Australia's Olympic equestrian team has again been rocked by the withdrawal of an injured horse on the eve of the London Games.

Distraught equestrian Megan Jones says the welfare of her horse came first in her last-minute withdrawal from the London Olympics.

Jones became the second member of the Australian eventing team forced out of the Games after her horse Allofasudden failed a vet check with a lame left fore foot.

"We can’t do anything about that. It is really hard and today we trotted up and looked at him and I went, 'I don't want to wreck my horse. Let's pull the pin now shall we and get the paperwork done."

The 15-year veteran of the national team revealed the horse has had a foot abscess problem for almost a fortnight, but she says team vets had thought they were on top of it.

Allofasudden started limping again yesterday, leaving vets no choice but to medicate.

"When you are dealing with an infection in a horse's foot, no matter how small, it is very painful for them and sometimes they could get a tiny bit of pus in there and walk around like the leg is broken," Jones said.

"His leg is not that bad. It is just a little bit off."

 

However, Jones says she is taking no chances with her trusted mount.

"It is a welfare thing for the horse. You have to look after the horse first, then the team second," she said.

Allofasudden is a horse Jones has worked with at a high performance level for the past five years and she say the animal is also in a quite a state.

"I think he knows. He is a cool horse," she said.

"I looked in his eyes. I am going to cry now. I said he is depressed. He is not happy. You are just best friends (with the horse)."

It is a sudden change of fortune for the 2008 silver medallist.

Jones was only entered in the Olympics several days ago when the horse of Beijing team-mate Shane Rose also came up lame.

"Look, I have had a lot of ups and downs with the horses. I am sure in the next couple of days I will probably fall apart. But right now it is upsetting," she said.

"At the end of the day you really can't get too upset and too angry maybe about things you can't control.

"There was never any option to swap horses at this late stage.

"It takes years to train horses to compete at the Olympic level and qualifying takes place as a rider and horse combination.

"Even if someone lent me a horse, I would not be qualified on that horse. That is the way it is."

The Australian eventing team travels with three reserves and equestrian section leader Brett Mace has chosen Sam Griffiths and his horse Happy Times as Jones's replacement.

"Yes it has been tough and yes it is difficult. But I think we have planned for this," he said.

"We have everything ready to go as we did with Megan, as we will with Sam.

"They will come in and we still feel we have got a chance of going out there and doing well and having a good crack at the gold medal."

If any positive has come out of the withdrawal, Jones says it is that she can now properly plan her upcoming nuptials.

"I might now be able to plan the wedding," she said to laughs.

"Get things organised. Get past a dress and a marquee. Actually have it more than a BYO.

"So I actually might get it done."