RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Two years ago Fiona Bigwood considered giving up riding. Today she's aiming for a medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Bigwood and her horse Orthilia posted a score of 77.157 percent on Wednesday to help the British dressage team into third place after the first half of the grand prix.
"I am so over the moon," Bigwood said. "I just love that horse, I was very emotional after ... I have had many horses over the years but once you get a real friend like that it's something special."
Bigwood, who was third best on the day, has to ride with an eye patch because the 40-year-old suffers from double vision as a result of an accident during a warm-up in April 2014.
"I think it's amazing how the body does adjust to these accidents," Bigwood said. "I could get it operated on but I'd probably need several operations."
"I might try after the Olympics now but I don't really notice it. I put the patch on and off I go ... you do adjust to it and life carries on."
Bigwood, who admits she hasn't managed to get back on the horse she was riding when she had the accident, credits Orthilia with getting her through one of the darkest moments of her career and back in the saddle.
"When i had my accident, I wasn't allowed to ride anything that could be a little bit cheeky or naughty in case I fell again so I kept riding her because she would never do anything to hurt you," she said.
"All through my accident she was the one that kept me going, I was going to stop riding and that's why I think I have got such a lovely relationship with her. She is a friend ... she really is a friend to me. I love her to bits."
Bigwood can also count on the support of one of her dressage rivals — husband Anders Dahl, who rides for Denmark.
The couple have three children together.
"It was lovely to be at the opening ceremony both of us," she said. "What an experience is that? How many people can say that?
"A couple of times he came and found me so it was quite sweet. He walked with the Danish team and when we were in the stadium he came and found me, so that was really nice."
Germany, which won silver four years ago, leads the team standings ahead of Netherlands, which finished third in London.
Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin compete tomorrow for Britain, with the latter looking to defend her individual and team titles.
The results are calculated using the average of the three best riders' scores from each nation.
The six best placed teams progress on to the next phase, Friday's Grand Prix Special, when the team medals are decided.