Harry Meade has a history with Musto that runs back 55 years. Harry’s father won three Olympic Gold medals in eventing and competed at his first Olympics in 1964 where he met sailing Olympic Silver medallist Keith Musto. Harry’s vision is to follow in his father’s footsteps and represent Great Britain at Tokyo 2020.
I was born into an eventing family - my father Richard won three Olympic gold medals in the 1960s and ‘70s. From early childhood I had a strong love of horses and for as long as I can remember I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and be an event rider.
In 2013, I had a bad fall where my horse somersaulted over a fence, and I was shot headfirst into the rock-hard ground like a javelin. It wasn’t the sort of fall where you could roll away, so I put my arms out to take the impact rather than my head and neck. Both arms bent backwards at the elbow and shattered with the horse then landing on me. After five operations, which were only partially successful, the surgeons gave me the gloomy news that I would be unlikely to sit on a horse again, let alone compete. Walking away from the sport that I love was something I wasn’t prepared to do without a fight. I was completely incapacitated for months and couldn’t even feed myself but ploughed all my energy into intensive rehab. All the time, I focused on a glimmer of hope - the word ‘unlikely’ must mean there was still a chance.
The first day I rode my arms were still in Forrest Gump style braces, and I only had a small amount of movement at the elbow, but I could grip the reins. The next day I rode the horse on the gallops and riding back into the yard I told the team we’d be going to Badminton in three months. What kept me going was the deeply ingrained love of riding and the thrill of competing at the top level - having thought it was all over, if there were a chance to get back there, I’d do anything to make it happen.
That Badminton in 2014 was my ninth, but bizarrely, my best result, finishing third. After all the emotions and struggles, it was a euphoric occasion and one which my wife Rosie and I cherished with a shared sense of perspective. Later that year, I was part of the silver medal winning British team at the World Championships. My father died a few months later, so it was very special that he was part of that journey.
I’ve always tried to focus on quality rather than quantity, so my string of horses is relatively modest in number and we have a comparatively large team of staff. Our yard is set up to design the best possible care for the horses. The arena surface, surrounding old turf, a variety of steep hills and use of a water treadmill means their day to day training puts as little wear and tear on their limbs as possible. I’ve always believed in never cutting corners at the expense of the horses, so they get the best quality feed and haylage, and spend as much time as possible in the field. Every horse has a programme from the physio of daily stretches, and they all have their legs iced after every piece of fast work. I’ve tried to be ahead of the age game by doing regular pilates, stretching and working with the physios - I want to be in a position to prevent issues that can be avoided. That, combined with a well-planned healthy diet and interests outside of the sport, are all key to longevity. Stepping back and enjoying fun and games with the children puts a healthy bit of perspective on life.
The essence of what we do remains unchanged - good old-fashioned horsemanship is still a key ingredient in reaching the top. However, alongside that, we’re able to monitor fine details to maximise a horse’s potential. My horses are weighed on a daily basis, and their saddles are all tested using pressure sensors and adjusted accordingly; we use heart rate monitors during their fitness work, and their forage is all analysed. The horses benefit from acupuncture and massage as well as electromagnetic therapy post work.
I believe you should never shy away from training in the worst conditions; it’s an opportunity to become comfortable with what you might be faced with in competition. Being properly kitted out with specially designed clothing that keeps you dry and the right temperature means you have one less thing to worry about so you can focus on your performance.
If I’m well protected on the outside, I can perform on the inside: that’s why I have chosen to work with Musto. They are continuously innovating their performance-wear which keeps me comfortable, dry and smart, allowing me to focus on my work with the horses.
Musto are excited to assist Harry on his journey to the top of the sport, ensuring that he has best kit to help him reach his goals.
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