Scotland’s equestrian community has rallied round to support two eventers whose horses were killed in a road accident when a lorry crashed into their broken down truck.
Nick Gauntlett was heading to the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials at Pitlochry, Perthshire when the accident happened on Tuesday night.
After the truck broke down on the A9 – just 30 minutes from Blair Castle – all team members left the vehicle while the horses remained inside.
While waiting for recovery services, Mr Gauntlett and his team watched as a lorry ploughed into the side of their truck.
His horse, Party Trick, died alongside three animals belonging to US-born eventer Sophie Hulme.
Police Scotland are investigating the circumstances of the crash and said two people were taken to hospital for treatment.
The accident happened as Scotland’s largest international horse event returns after a two-year break because of the pandemic.
Organiser Alec Lochore said: “I think there’s a very strong community, the equestrian community in particular and in eventing. I had the good fortune of speaking to Nick today and he’s been overwhelmed by the amount of support and he is just extremely grateful who has tried to help him.”
Riders say they’re competing extra hard for those who are unable to participate.
The event attracts some of the world’s leading competitors in the sport, including members of Britain’s Olympic gold medal winning eventing team from Tokyo.
Tom McEwen, one of those who won equestrian gold in Japan, told STV News: “The weather here at Blair is great! It’s warmer up here than it is at home.
“But seriously, the course is amazing it’s a good test of the horses with the hills behind us it’s a test like no other until you get to the top, so to do it and find out a bit more about your horse is always good.”
The action at Blair Castle continues across the weekend with the international cross country and show jumping classes.
Competitors and fans are happy to see the event back on the calendar, and they’re particularly determined it will be a success this year following Tuesday’s tragic accident.
Gloucestershire-based Ms Hulme, who was already at Blair Castle, said: “I am so absolutely devastated and at a loss for words.
“Three of my lovely horses my precious babies are gone. Taken far too soon from this world.
“My beautiful Charisma and Feyre are gone and my lovely Fintan as well. I’m so sorry for Nick and Amanda and for their loss. The world can be such a cruel place.
“My world is completely upside down at the moment.
“Thank you to everyone who has messaged and reached out to me I am slowly working my way through all the messages.
“It’s going to be hard for a while and it’s going to be tough but the best we can do is soldier on.
“Everyone please give your horses an extra hug and kiss from me as you never know what might happen.”