It’s Ok To Shed a Tear: Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos Come Back After Fire to Compete at Burghley 4* Horse Trials

If wishes were airplanes, you know I’d be at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England this week. But my gallbladder had other plans for me, so I’m at home recovering. The blog must go on, and some good friends are available to lend a hand. Some are even at Burghley! This post is a case in point: eventing specialist photographer Nico Morgan is an old pro at covering Burghley, photographing its minute details and observing the “big picture” with a sensitive eye.

Just a few short months ago, the highly-recognizable and handsome white-faced event horse known as “Neville Bardos” was hospitalized at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. The WEG 2010 USA team horse narrowly survived a devastating fire at rider Boyd Martin’s barn outside Philadelphia. Would he even compete again, we wondered© Boyd and Neville both have made a huge comeback, culminating with the completion of their first phase of the grueling 4* Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England this week. Join The Jurga Report as we cheer them on–and over–the obstacles that await them tomorrow! (Image courtesy of

Still, it was a surprise for me when Nico wrote this lovely observation of one of the Americans competing at Burghley. Everyone in the USA knows what a miracle it is for Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos to be able to compete there. To read it in the words of a British photographer, and to see the photo he snapped yesterday at just the right moment, makes this one a candidate for the “photo of the year”, at least for me.

Thanks so much to Nico Morgan for his willingness to allow me to share his photo and his words. If you are a Flickr user, be sure to add Nico as a contact, and keep up with his photos that he posts there, or follow @nicomorgan on Twitter. And if you’re a diehard Boyd Martin fan (who isn’t?) or just a lover of eventing, you can have the ultimate “be there!” experience by perusing Nico’s Burghley 2011 gallery on his web site.

This is the web at its best: A talented photographer generously shares his work for all to see (and buy, true, but first to see!) and adds words from the heart that make it even richer for all of us so far away. Thanks, Nico!

For most of the British visitors at Burghley this year, the site of a visiting US competitor finishing his dressage test in the arena might not mean that much. For Boyd Martin and his mount Neville Bardos, though, it means a great deal more than the $850 that was paid for the horse.

Back in May of this year there was a terrible barn fire at the yard Boyd rents from Phillip Dutton. Six horses were killed in the tragedy. Boyd and Phillip went back into the fire on several occasions to try to rescue horses which, despite being freed from their stables, were refusing to move.

Neville Bardos was standing in his box wearing a wind-sucker collar which gave them something to lead him with. With Boyd pulling and Phillip Dutton standing behind Neville with a whip they managed to force him out of the barn just in time. They returned for more horses but it was too late.

Neville suffered terrible burning of his oesophagus and wind pipe from smoke inhalation and had to go through a lot of treatment before being able to go back to work.

To see him here completing a CCI**** dressage test in the hardest competition on the planet was enough to bring a lump to the throat. If he manages to get round this, the hardest cross country course most competitors may ever see, it will be nothing short of a miracle. A miracle everyone here would like to witness.

–Nico Morgan, photographer

1 September 2011


Read Neville Bardos’ amazing biography and career record on Boyd Martin Eventing’s web site.

Admire (and order) photos of Burghley 2011 and other British events (as I’ve been known to do!) on British photographer Nico Morgan‘s well-organized and easy-to-order web site with (already!) close to 1000 photos from this year’s Burghley…and they’re still in dressage!

The horse’s esophagus (American spelling) is the area often injured in horses who survive barn fires. Think of it as the “food pipe”, as opposed to the “wind pipe”. Dengie Horse Feeds has a terrific little YouTube video detailing the horse’s digestive system with a very clever illustrated horse sheet and a five-star visual aid!




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