Catherine Tyree’s mare Free Style VH Polderhof collapsed in the show ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., and died suddenly from unknown causes on Jan. 14.
Tyree was taken to the hospital via ambulance following the fall.
Tyree and Free Style VH Polderhof were competing in an $8,000 1.45-meter class, held in the International Ring. Tyree had finished the first round of the class and was walking before starting the jump-off track when the mare collapsed.
“She was just pausing for a moment and was walking, and then the mare took a funny step with her one hind leg, kind of did a teeny little rear, and then just completely fell over on her side,” said Missy Clark, Tyree’s trainer.
According to Clark, Tyree suffered five fractures to her left foot where the mare fell on her but is otherwise uninjured.
“She was just such a sweet, lovely mare, and we’re all devastated,” Clark said.
Officials with the Winter Equestrian Festival released the following statement regarding the incident:
“On Thursday, Jan. 14, at approximately 8:45 a.m., Free Style VH Polderhof, ridden by Catherine Tyree and owned by Mary and Joe Tyree, collapsed and died in the International Ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. They were competing in class 1003, the 1.45m jumpers, and had finished their first round. As they prepared to go into their jump-off round, Free Style collapsed while [she] was walking. Equine and human emergency crews were at their side immediately and the horse was transported from the ring in the equine ambulance. Ms. Tyree was taken to the hospital with a leg injury.”
Tyree had purchased the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kashmir van Schuttershof—Bleu de Toi van het Polderhof) in 2014, competing her in the high junior/amateur-owner jumpers and under-25 grand prix classes throughout 2015. During the 2015 WEF, they placed second in a $25,000 Artisan Farms Under-25 Grand Prix and were the high amateur-owner jumper champions in Week 4.