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Ashley Stout , 13 and her horse, killed in Rotational Fall (Named to YR Training team)

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    The intentions of this thread are good. The timing is off. Whether the conversation happens the day after the incident or a week or two later will not affect any long term outcomes of this conversation. The requests by Ashley's grieving community have been to wait a bit, not to end discussion permanently.

    I would consider this request a priority and not a big ask.

    Deep and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and support team directly affected by this tragedy



    One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
    William Shakespeare

    Comment


      Originally posted by ohmyheck View Post
      The intentions of this thread are good. The timing is off. Whether the conversation happens the day after the incident or a week or two later will not affect any long term outcomes of this conversation. The requests by Ashley's grieving community have been to wait a bit, not to end discussion permanently.

      I would consider this request a priority and not a big ask.

      Deep and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and support team directly affected by this tragedy


      This ^^^^^^^^^^^ 100%.

      Comment


        Bears Repeating:
        The intentions of this thread are good. The timing is off. Whether the conversation happens the day after the incident or a week or two later will not affect any long term outcomes of this conversation. The requests by Ashley's grieving community have been to wait a bit, not to end discussion permanently.

        I would consider this request a priority and not a big ask.

        Deep and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and support team directly affected by this tragedy

        Comment


          I didn't personally know this young rider or her connections since I have been out of the competition game for a few years, and I only just heard of this tragic accident. That said, my deepest heartfelt condolences go out to all those involved. It's heartbreaking on so many levels. Now that some time has passed, perhaps it's a better moment to add to this discussion.

          It's been an arduous few months in the US equestrian scene, with some very high profile horse and rider deaths - from Mongolian Groom who shattered his left hind in a high stakes race, to Princess Dorian who succumbed to complications following her injury, to Archie at the PAU 5*, and now this young horse and rider duo among numerous others.

          I, like several members posting in this thread, have been looking for concrete evidence on potential risk factors that are a catalyst in these types of accidents for some time. The idea behind this being that we can arm ourselves to make better decisions in the face of an inherently risky and dangerous sport.

          While we can rely on the FEI, USEA, and USEF to thoroughly investigate, as some of you have mentioned (which they do), they, unfortunately, cannot make decisions for anyone - unless it's in a competition setting and they are adding additional safety protocols. There's also no guarantee that you or I will ever find these reports without actively searching them out to make a well informed decision.

          I say all of this because this accident, in particular, has been extremely eye-opening for me, and will likely make me rethink how to bring up my children in their future riding careers.

          Here's what I have found: The FEI has conducted numerous studies on horse falls (both rotational and non-rotational) to isolate risk factors on cross country courses. Below are the links.

          From 2011 - https://inside.fei.org/system/files/...es_Barnett.pdf
          from 2016 - https://inside.fei.org/system/files/...2026.07.16.pdf
          From 2018 - https://www.an-eventful-life.com.au/...28.02.2018.pdf

          The chance of a rotational fall resulting in serious injury or death, based on findings from the 2018 study, is an abysmal 0.0070%. The potential for this type of scenario happening (2011 & 2016 study) comes down to the horse's age, the rider's experience, and the type of jump.

          Horses under 8y/o (regardless of rider experience) are at a higher risk of falling. Inexperienced riders (category D or lower) are also at a higher risk of falling. Beyond that, I think we all know that different types of jumps vary in their risk factors (I'd be happy to elaborate if needed) along with the speed they are taken at.

          Without knowing the details of the jump they fell at or their method of approach, it seems like the combo can be classified into at least two of the four categories - the horse was 7 (correct me if I am wrong) and she just started competing at training level. I don't think anyone that's just starting at the low/mid-levels of competition can be considered an experienced rider - whether they are 30 or 13. That's not to say that she wasn't extremely talented (clearly she was), just that the combined inexperience of herself and her horse led to a very very very rare and fatal error.

          I think one problem is that we are confusing talent with experience, and perhaps not adjusting ourselves accordingly.

          Another prime dilemma here is, how do we advance in the sport without challenging ourselves and putting ourselves at risk? That is, attempting higher and more difficult obstacles to become that experienced and risk-averse rider. TBH, I don't have all the answers.

          In the height of my competition career (2*) I found myself in numerous dicey situations that could have resulted in very serious injuries. Maybe I was just lucky or maybe my coach was a genius and made calculated risks that leaned the odds in my favor.

          After reading these reports though, I will be ultra-careful in considering how to pair my young riders with suitable mounts to reduce that risk - even if it is just a little bit.

          One idea that sticks out to me is always pairing inexperienced riders with older, more reliable horses - regardless of their actual skill level. A 15-year-old 2* or 3* school master, for example, could help a rider just learning the ropes to gain necessary experience in a safer manner, but of course, there are so many more caveats. A horse of that caliber is not easy to find, is inevitably not cheap, and has to match the riding style of the rider.

          Personally, I didn't start working with young horses (6y/o or less) until I was riding intermediate level courses comfortably.

          Anyways, that's my two cents. I hope I haven't offended anyone with my objective opinion, but in any case, I truly apologize - that is not at all my intention. I do hope that we can learn something (even just the group of us on this forum) from this unfortunate mishap and not let her passing go in vain.

          Peace, Love & Healing to all.
          Last edited by Christie Wishlove; Dec. 10, 2019, 10:57 AM. Reason: clarity

          Comment


            In trying to get to the newest post on a jumpy screen, I had to click through a couple of pages. During that process, this post scrolled in front of my eyes:

            Originally posted by kcmel View Post
            Maybe it could be considered such for someone not involved in the sport. Speaking for myself I always want as many details as I can in order to protect myself and my horse. Maybe the details won't be relevant in the end but right now we don't know that.

            Yes we should be more patient, but these terrible tragedies lead to a lot of soul searching. At least for me. And this one hits particularly close to home since I know some of the people involved.
            That was posted on July 12. kcmel died of her injuries from a schooling accident on October 11.

            Three months.


            Comment


              Originally posted by JER View Post
              In trying to get to the newest post on a jumpy screen, I had to click through a couple of pages. During that process, this post scrolled in front of my eyes:



              That was posted on July 12. kcmel died of her injuries from a schooling accident on October 11.

              Three months.

              OMG that is doubly heartbreaking. Godspeed to both of them.
              McDowell Racing Stables

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              Comment


                Originally posted by Christie Wishlove View Post
                I

                One idea that sticks out to me is always pairing inexperienced riders with older, more reliable horses - regardless of their actual skill level. A 15-year-old 2* or 3* packer, for example, could help a rider just learning the ropes to gain necessary experience in a safer manner, but of course, there are so many more caveats. A horse of that caliber is not easy to find, is inevitably not cheap, and has to match the riding style of the rider.

                .
                If ONLY the older "packers" could be guaranteed to tone-it-down a bit XC for the less experienced rider/smaller courses. I've seen many youngsters/older newbies being seriously over-horsed as a result of the horse being in control ---with the smaller fences at the lower levels, some of them don't back off on their own.

                What would be a great "packer" for a 16-21 yr old having a go at Prelim may not be so safe for 13-14yr old kid at Training. So much depends on how "aware" the rider is of the speeds they are travelling at; the approach they are making; the need to be an active participant in the XC ride----that isn't necessarily age-specific but probably improves more with "time-in-the-saddle" age.

                Comment


                  Originally posted by TMares View Post
                  Bears Repeating:
                  The intentions of this thread are good. The timing is off. Whether the conversation happens the day after the incident or a week or two later will not affect any long term outcomes of this conversation. The requests by Ashley's grieving community have been to wait a bit, not to end discussion permanently.

                  I would consider this request a priority and not a big ask.

                  Deep and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and support team directly affected by this tragedy
                  Re this thoughtful remark ...

                  Maybe we could move the substantive discussion to a thread with an appropriate title? ty

                  Comment


                    Originally posted by banmharcach View Post

                    If ONLY the older "packers" could be guaranteed to tone-it-down a bit XC for the less experienced rider/smaller courses. I've seen many youngsters/older newbies being seriously over-horsed as a result of the horse being in control ---with the smaller fences at the lower levels, some of them don't back off on their own.

                    What would be a great "packer" for a 16-21 yr old having a go at Prelim may not be so safe for 13-14yr old kid at Training. So much depends on how "aware" the rider is of the speeds they are travelling at; the approach they are making; the need to be an active participant in the XC ride----that isn't necessarily age-specific but probably improves more with "time-in-the-saddle" age.
                    To the bolded part: Yes, yes, yes. Age has nothing to do with this conversation. We are strictly speaking about experience in the saddle at the level in question - whether you are 15 or 35, there is little distinction.

                    In regards to your whole statement, that's definitely an important consideration that I completely agree with. As i mentioned in my original post, it's not a simple, cut and dry, solution. See below:


                    ...but of course, there are so many more caveats. A horse of that caliber is not easy to find, is inevitably not cheap, and has to match the riding style of the rider.
                    Someone that is "over-horsed" is arguably not a good match for/with their mount, hence why I specifically included the warnings that I could foresee in such a situation. But I'll also add that people can be over horsed with lower level horses too! A 6 y/o strong willed TB that's just starting at training level can be way more dangerous than the 2* horse that's professionally trained and takes the rider to the jumps.

                    To go off topic, I had a client that asked me to bring along their new event horse about 10 years ago. I don't remember his breed but he was a 15.2 chestnut with a dressage background (imported, super flashy, lots of chrome, jaw dropping movement, and brave with lots of scope in his jump) and just starting at the novice level. From the outside, this horse seemed like anyone's dream mount.

                    After a few xc schoolings, I was convinced this horse would end up killing me. We were popping over a teensy tiny log at the top of a hill and he tried to jump to the bottom of the hill, flipping us over in the process. This was one of his better moments. He was unpredictable and completely uncontrollable once he got out into the xc field. For my safety I ended the contract, and sadly, he passed away not too long after from a tragic accident in his own stall. My point being, being over-horsed can happen regardless of the horse's competition record and experience.

                    Ultimately, it requires a very knowledgable and patient coach & parent team to match their child with a horse that is suitable for their goals, abilities, and experience. It's not an easy process by any means.

                    And maybe "packer" wasn't the right choice of wording. When I say packer, I'm referring to an uncomplicated horse that is a straightforward ride on xc. In other words, a school master. Not a 2* or 3* horse in the prime of their career, waiting to have it's potential unlocked at the upper levels. The horse probably won't be super flashy and he may never win dressage. Ideally this horse has milage at the higher levels of competition but is better suited to bringing up AMs and YRs.

                    Even that won't eliminate the risk entirely, as inexperience is a risk factor in and of itself. A reckless ride on a school master can still result in a serious injury. Like you said, it comes down to the awareness of the rider.

                    Due to the nature of high level competition though, I often see many of those "school master" types the classifieds, it's just matter of finding that one that is most rideable for you. Making it to the UL is not easy and requires a very special mix of traits that the vast majority of horses don't have - otherwise we would have a lot more 4* horses and riders.
                    Last edited by Christie Wishlove; Dec. 9, 2019, 01:19 PM.

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by Christie Wishlove View Post
                      And maybe "packer" wasn't the right choice of wording. When I say packer, I'm referring to an uncomplicated horse that is a straightforward ride on xc.
                      And that is asking an awful lot of a horse, especially if the rider is perhaps ‘complicated’ or not exactly straightforward yet.

                      The push to do Young Riders is a rather dubious thing. (Most teen riders have been effectively priced out of it - maybe this is good.) But the temptation for those with means to buy a high-priced 7YO that’s done Intermediate or an imported horse sporting the dealer prefix du jour - I’ve seen this go wrong even with a stellar training team in place.

                      Comment


                        Originally posted by JER View Post
                        The push to do Young Riders is a rather dubious thing. (Most teen riders have been effectively priced out of it - maybe this is good.) But the temptation for those with means to buy a high-priced 7YO that’s done Intermediate or an imported horse sporting the dealer prefix du jour - I’ve seen this go wrong even with a stellar training team in place.
                        That's a great point JER. A lot of young riders have dreams of going to NAJYRC and conversely push themselves harder to achieve it. To be a devils advocate though, you can also say the same thing about the olympics.

                        The studies I linked to in my original post here did point out that more horse and rider falls happen at championships and I believe this extends to the training sessions leading up to the events as well. The nerves, expectations, and excitement can definitely cloud one's judgement.

                        In regards to the underlined part, that's the opposite of my suggestion and putting an inexperienced rider with that type of horse increases their risk of falling by a minimum ratio of 4 (or more depending on the jump and their riding speed). That means they could be at 4-8 times more risk of falling than a more experience horse and rider duo.

                        Considering the data thats available, I'm not at all surprised that you have "seen this go wrong even with a stellar training team in place."

                        There will always be temptation in life, but that is where I see the value in this discussion - educating the riders and their connections to make a safe and practical decision when buying a horse. Not every horse parent knows about horses. Not every trainer knows about the research.

                        What I do know? Parents, coaches, and competitors alike come to these types of forums seeking that knowledge.

                        Originally posted by JER View Post

                        And that is asking an awful lot of a horse, especially if the rider is perhaps ‘complicated’ or not exactly straightforward yet.
                        I agree that it is a lot to ask of the horse, but the rider's abilities should round out with the right partnership and training program over time. So let me ask you this:

                        Aren't you asking an "awful lot" more out of the horse if they are inexperienced themselves? Furthermore, aren't we asking a ton out of our school horses whose job it is to teach riders how to ride correctly day-in and day-out?

                        And if not with a school master, what type of mount do you think would be the safest for an inexperienced rider wanting to move up the levels? An older more experienced horse doesn't eliminate the risk, but according to the studies, it does reduce it.

                        On the topic of price, you can likely find a rising 7 y/o that's in line to be a top prospect at a similar price as a proven 2* eventer with enough mileage and sense for a YR and AM.

                        Unless we do away with competitions all together, we have to make better decisions to prevent serious injury or death of our aspiring champions, while still supporting them in their goals.
                        Last edited by Christie Wishlove; Dec. 11, 2019, 01:48 PM.

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by Christie Wishlove View Post
                          So let me ask you this:

                          Aren't you asking an "awful lot" more out of the horse if they are inexperienced themselves? Furthermore, aren't we asking a ton out of our school horses whose job it is to teach riders how to ride correctly day-in and day-out?

                          And if not with a school master, what type of mount do you think would be the safest for an inexperienced rider wanting to move up the levels? An older more experienced horse doesn't eliminate the risk, but according to the studies, it does reduce it.
                          We’re asking a lot of our horses in eventing, period. We’re putting them in situations where a small mistake can be fatal.

                          I don’t advocate inexperienced horses for young riders. I’m acknowledging that it’s a big ask for even an experienced horse to carry a less-experienced rider (who may give the horse conflicting signals) around an XC course. A truly safe jumper will stop when things get unsafe - and this will often be looked at as a fault of the horse in a competitive YR situation.

                          As for school horses, we do ask a lot of them. However, we aren’t usually putting them in XC jumping situations in which a mistake can cause serious injury or death.

                          Comment


                            I had just met Ashley and we'd spoken for a bit before she died. She was so amazing, and I was so happy she'd get to go to Kentucky, but she never made it ):
                            I still miss her so much, she was such an amazing shining light <3 She passed away while I was at camp, it was such shocking news when I got back </3

                            Comment


                              Originally posted by JER View Post

                              We’re asking a lot of our horses in eventing, period. We’re putting them in situations where a small mistake can be fatal.

                              I don’t advocate inexperienced horses for young riders. I’m acknowledging that it’s a big ask for even an experienced horse to carry a less-experienced rider (who may give the horse conflicting signals) around an XC course. A truly safe jumper will stop when things get unsafe - and this will often be looked at as a fault of the horse in a competitive YR situation.

                              As for school horses, we do ask a lot of them. However, we aren’t usually putting them in XC jumping situations in which a mistake can cause serious injury or death.
                              I understand your point, but respectfully disagree.

                              I don't think it's asking an awful lot to take a seasoned high level event horse down to a fractionally lower level to help a rider gain knowledge and experience. It could be a great fit for a horse that was previously working at their maximum capacity.

                              Yes, there will be mistakes and conflicting signals, but this can happen with experienced riders too.

                              I agree with your assessment of what makes a horse a truly safe jumper and I'm glad that you brought it up. With your input, riders and their connections can be more aware of the potential pitfalls of succumbing to an overly competitive agenda.

                              Comment


                                Originally posted by kcmel View Post
                                This is just devastating. I am heartbroken for her family and friends.
                                Little did I know Melanie, this would be you a few months later.

                                Comment


                                  The best thing for this thread at this point ... please do not reply.

                                  Thanks.

                                  Comment

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