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Has your enjoyment of eventing been affected by horse/rider deaths?

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  • #41
    Originally posted by beowulf View Post
    I am not knocking Andrea, as it is more the industry's fault than her own: it seems to be the mantra now to get the youngest horse you can competing the highest it can. Andrea has a lot to deal with, and I'm sure the loss of her partner is unequivocal in the parallels of grief - my query was not meant to bash her and if that is how you saw it than I am sorry you took it that way. I am sure you have plenty of experience on the matter and that is not what is being questioned here.

    Does anyone really believe that competing a horse that young is completely mature both physically and mentally? A horse going Intermediate at 7 means it had to have been ridden regularly at a very, VERY young age -- and ridden hard, since no one can say Intermediate height jumps are easy. And in the theory of competition, it means she was schooling Advanced BEFORE being 7 -- just HOW in the world is that an easy task for a horse that is barely mature skeletal-wise and mentally? Just because it is accepted doesn't make it okay.

    Hopefully the sport of EV can learn from this disastrous misfortune, and hopefully no one finds my questioning this protocol inflammatory.

    EDIT: rotational falls have happened in SJ - they can happen over any jump regardless of its stability. Youtube will prove that.
    Ok, prove your statement and prove any deaths resulting.
    Oh wait, you can't.

    One definition of rotational fall.
    "a fall where the horse hits a fence with its front legs or chest and its body somersaults over the fence with the fence acting as a pivot point. In a rotational fall, the rider usually is thrown out of the saddle and goes over the jump before the horse. In a worst case scenario, the horse can land on the rider."

    If the jump gives way it can't be a pivot point.

    This type of post is just one more example of eventings totally defensive attitude towards horse and rider seriious injuries.
    If you personally think it's 'OK' then heaven help you when PETA and HSUS go after you. LMAO
    Too much denial that there is a problem.

    I notice that FEI's latest position is that the rider is to blame.
    Maybe so but a bad ride in H/J just means no ribbon, not a death or crippling injury.

    This quote from the FEI is clearly defensive and disturbing in several levels

    "The FEI Eventing risk management needs also to take into account the risks for the FEI deriving from an unmanaged communication of any accident that will inevitably produce a bad image for the organization and the sport if not put in the right context of a proactive risk management policy.
    Public perception of proactive risk management is as important as the risk management actions performed and an effective risk management communication plan is key for achieving the mission of the organization.
    In order to ensure the above:
     A communication strategy for FEI Eventing risk management must be urgently developed. All risk management actions must be made public and actively explained .
     A clear procedure has been established in case of any serious accident to allow correct distribution of information."

    That's pretty clear. Hush, don't let on there has been an accident.


    • #42
      Once again S A McKee, you couldn't be more wrong. To assume someone doesn't care about horse welfare because they disagree with your position on what constitutes a rotational fall, is both ignorant and ridiculous, but just keep babbling on, if it makes you feel superior. You do not merit response.


      • #43
        Absolutely not true that a stadium fence cannot be a pivot point in a rotational fall. Been there done that, hope to never see the backend of horse coming down on me from great height again.

        My take would be that rotational falls become more deadly at higher speeds as the horse slams into the ground with no time for the rider to react.

        I'm so sorry for Andrea and loss of her lovely mare.
        If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb


        • #44
          S A MCKEE You're playing with semantics. Did you actually find that definition somewhere? If a horse somersaults back over, neck over, head, he has rotated.
          I don't think they need a solid jump on which to pivot over. Watched one happen in a novice stadium. Experienced Rolex rider, green horse. It happens.


          • #45
            Please don't turn this into a bashing of this poor rider. Horses, even experienced ones make mistakes, as do experienced riders. At the upper levels, they hit a lot of fences, most of them come home with bumps and bruises. Unfortunately some do not come home. Its always a tragedy.


            • #46
              SA McKee, did you look at the photo I posted on page 2? Rotational fall. Show jumping. One that took me approximately 15 seconds to find with a search engine. Shall we all take turns providing more examples?

              Even the great George Morris frequently mentions horses with poor jumping form being at risk for ROTATIONAL FALLS when they hook a leg on a rail. But hell, what does HE know? He's only the guru of the H/J world. And has witnessed at least one rotational fall firsthand:

              George Morris Responds To Horse's Death.
              Article from: Practical Horseman | April 1, 2000 | JAFFER, NANCY | Copyright.

              On January 21, in one of dozens of lessons he gave that day in a rented ring in Wellington, Florida, George was working with adult amateur Rosamond Smythe and her jumper Foreign Exchange. One of the obstacles in the ring was a narrow fence with a hollow metal pipe as its top element. The horse took the fence but knocked the pipe with his front legs, pushing it out in front of him, then stumbled on landing turning over, launching his rider from the saddle, and somehow severing an artery in his chest He died within minutes.
              Using statements like "can't happen" is just ignorant in this context.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #47
                At my first 3-day event in 1983, the rider, two riders ahead of me was killed in a fall on cross-country. It wasn't called a "rotational" fall then but I think that is what it was. I always think about the possibility and so have availed myself of the very best instruction and very safe horses. My horses did not always win but they have all been very good jumpers!

                I have always gone out of my way to learn as much as I can about riding, conditioning and caring for my horses. I love my horses and never wanted to see them hurt. I don't think I could say that about all of the other riders around me. I have watched many other riders go through horse after horse in their quest to compete at the upper levels, leaving a trail of injured, screwed up horses in their wake. I saw them push horses too far, too fast--over and over and over.

                I had a very near rotational fall at advanced in the mid 90's. If it wasn't for my wonderful Harry, it would have been very bad. Harry had a fifth leg that day and saved me. It was all because I was pushing myself too much. On paper we were qualified to run at that level but I really needed to slow down and take a bit more time to be really settled in it. I learned that I had to be really comfortable with my horse at whatever level. And also, that it was supposed to be FUN!!!

                I see a lot of riders who do not appear to have the knowledge and experience required at the level they are competing and that makes me worry. They have the money to buy experienced horses but they still have to be able to ride them and there is the rub.

                I have been at probably six events over the years where horses have died cross-country. Not always in rotational falls, but other kinds as well. I did not see all the falls but I really wonder how many were the result of riders pushing horses too far too fast and without the knowledge and experience to know that that is what they were doing.

                Yea, I know you have to keep your eye on the prize if you are going to reach a goal but you also have to step back and take a longer view of whether your goal is appropriate for your horse at that time. You also need a coach that has the experience to know if you are ready and the guts to say that you are not.

                Rotational falls are a result of the horses getting too close to the fence and not being able to get their legs out of the way in time. I think it is at least 95% rider error. Basically you miss your distance. At the lower levels the horses can still make it over. Once the fences get bigger it is harder for the horse to get out their legs out of the way.

                But these rotational falls have happened to riders of all types. It is not like you can pin it down and find the reason they make this mistake. At least I don't think so. I think there are more falls now with the short format.

                I want to know if there are any statistics that show if the rate of horse and rider deaths are higher now than in the 1980's or '90s. There are more people eventing now so you would expect more accidents, but I wonder about the rate.

                Does anyone know this?


                • #48
                  SA MCKEE: Here's a thread from COTH from 2009, basically discussing all of the rotational falls others have seen in other disciplines. Claiming that they never happen in any other disciplines is just ignorant and flat out wrong. Regardless of whether there's an official definition or not, if a horse catches a leg/chests a fence and falls/rotates/twists/whatever and then falls, possibly on the rider, I'd say its a rotational fall. And even if its not, its still incredibly dangerous.

                  ETA: I forgot the link...oops!


                  And while we're at it, here's a similar topic:


                  • #49
                    This thread is so far following the script.
                    Blame this, blame that.
                    Blame the ____, blame the _____.
                    Can we just stop that? It's painfully inconsiderate to read this stuff. It's all just speculation. How can you possibly say it is someone's fault right now? Can you possibly put yourself in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel?

                    I do accident scene investigation for a living. There's no WAY you can start laying blame and saying it's this, it's that before the investigation is complete. And even then two opposing sides can take the exact same information and come up with two plausible explanations.

                    I am not going to gloss over the loss of a horse, and the serious injury of the rider. But I trust that the officials there will have the complete information, and that we, here, are not going to have complete information. So ... lots of talking through hats going on. So can we just be a little more considerate here?
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                    • #50
                      ^^ thank you.


                      • #51
                        I just want to say that I saw a rotational fall this summer in a Training level stadium round. The horse did a complete somersault and stood back up, with the pole balancing on his saddle.

                        As for horses lasting longer, I have to disagree. Only in that the horses that do last are just super sound. There are so many horses retired at 9, 10, 11, that have evented like crazy at a young age and can not continue. You can just look at Sport Horse Nation to see some. They are looking to be lower level schoolmasters at 9 years old. I can't tell you how many I have known in my area alone. Very sad. There were MANY 18 year olds going around the long format Badminton/Rolex/Olympics.

                        Denny is right...the courses are too technical and upright for the speed required.


                        • #52
                          I find it interesting that this same subject gets raised every now and then and really, the consensus is all the same for the most part. I do think after the really loud battle cry from the smurfs as well as some brave ULR/BNT~~ 2007-8 that the situation of horses dying has been addressed both from rotational falls, and sudden deaths on course that had nothing to do with a jump per se. I have seen some change in some of the courses over the past 4 or so years. People are more aware, including us as riders.

                          Things that are being done include frangible pins, break away fences, more time for the horse to rest/think.

                          For the horses, a lot of research, I believe, is going on for the bleeding issues that plagued our sport. Not sure, but I think that would be part of why the necropsy is done- DW may know, but doesn't any horse that dies at an event get one as part of the process so some of these issues can be addressed in case there is a link found? I do look forward to hearing the results that may come out.

                          Blame never gets us anywhere except all hot and bothered and our panties in a (uncomfortable) twist. We are emotional about this, well, because its our sport...and we care about it. But, what did happen in that rough period for our sport, as I remember it, was people actually got out there in a practical way, and thought about things and there were attempts at fixing the problem without emotion (well, as much as that is possible!).

                          Thing is, we don't know exactly what the problem is, do we? We can speculate. Having ridden Ocala (and that was before the ramped oxer-y tables) it's flat, fast, perfect footing, and I ran faster than I ever have, and we were safe. I can tell you, however, that those tables are BIG (and I freely admit to table-phobia.)

                          My heart breaks for Andrea, and all the other riders that have lost horses doing what they love. I can only imagine the heartache and guilt they must be feeling...but it is a choice we make every day when we put our legs around them. No guarantees in life for anything.


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                            I just want to say that I saw a rotational fall this summer in a Training level stadium round. The horse did a complete somersault and stood back up, with the pole balancing on his saddle.

                            As for horses lasting longer, I have to disagree. Only in that the horses that do last are just super sound. There are so many horses retired at 9, 10, 11, that have evented like crazy at a young age and can not continue. You can just look at Sport Horse Nation to see some. They are looking to be lower level schoolmasters at 9 years old. I can't tell you how many I have known in my area alone. Very sad. There were MANY 18 year olds going around the long format Badminton/Rolex/Olympics.

                            Denny is right...the courses are too technical and upright for the speed required.
                            Thank you. It is clear Denny is right, thankfully he is not concerned about the "image", he is concerned about the sport, the people and the animals. I am sick to death of the attempts to cover over for the "accidents" that could be prevented, and one with a seven year old going intermediate, with a format that pushes the limit, what is the point exactly?
                            "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                            • #54
                              S A McKee, what was it you were saying about those oxers? This post here describes Laura Chapot's horse as flipping at an oxer at WEF last week.


                              • #55
                                It is starting to affect me, a little. I go Novice, and my pony, though small, and green-on-green, has a strong sense of self-preservation. She will stop, and stop safely, if she can not get us both safely to the other side. If she's tired, and can not safely tackle a big (for her 13hh-ness) wall, she sits down and stops. I feel very safe on her, even when she has no brakes and is getting fastest time of the day. Again.

                                My best friend goes Intermediate/Advanced/3*** ... and yes, up til this weekend, I guess I was in denial - a little nervous, but knowing for sure that her good, honest, super-springy horse would bring her home safe. And now i'm just not so sure. He will get old sometime, he may break down some time. Dear God I hope she retires him earlier rather than later. :/


                                • #56
                                  And in the theory of competition, it means she was schooling Advanced BEFORE being 7 -- just HOW in the world is that an easy task for a horse that is barely mature skeletal-wise and mentally? Just because it is accepted doesn't make it okay.

                                  I don't know many if any people who cross country school their horses at the Advanced Level. Any schooling at those heights would mainly be in stadium jumping...so that would be up to 4'1" which equates to approximately Level 5 to level 6 in jumpers. I believe the six year old jumper classes are at this height, so that is in line with eventing. Seven year olds are permitted to compete at grand prix. Don't know what all that really means, but how many of us who are commenting can really judge whether or not a professionals horse was ready to jump at a certain level? I have had a coming five year old that could easily jump prelim cross country, and if it had continued in eventing would have had no problem at the Intermediate level by the end of the year, but then I have also had older horses who were not and never would be capable of Intermediate.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    It's been very interesting reading all the replies. I want to reiterate that I did not start this thread to place any blame on any horse or rider. But hearing about Andrea asking and asking about her horse in the hospital...that just gutted me to the core. That would be me...and I can't imagine the heart wrenching grief one experiences when they are told what happened to their equine partner in that situation.

                                    I own my heart horse now...I have never loved a horse so much and I worry all the time about what can happen to him, realizing that freak accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. These feelings are why I started this thread.

                                    Whenever something tragic happens, we all want answers. We want to know WHY. We want to know HOW to fix it. And the problem is...that there aren't necessarily answers. There are no reasons or solutions gift wrapped and handed to us. And that's what makes it even harder to deal with.

                                    Terrible accidents have happened throughout eventing's history, and yes, with today's immediate media--pictures, video, and reporting online--people find out in a much more timely and graphic manner, which makes accidents much more "obvious" than in times past.

                                    However, it still doesn't quiet the voice in my head that asks, "Is it fair to put our horses in this situation?" Our horses can't necessarily speak for themselves. It's one thing to participate in a high-risk sport ourselves, but completely another to ask our horses to do the same.

                                    I guess to sum it up, if I had a horse that had the potential to compete at Preliminary and above, would I place it with a professional so this horse could hopefully compete at the top of the sport? A few years ago I would have said yes. Now I would say no.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      One other thing I wanted to comment on, and this is just my personal opinion, is that I do feel that the ages outlined by the FEI for the eventing levels are asking young horses to do too much.

                                      My husband and I have brought along several young horses and I've quickly realized that it is so easy to get head of yourself. Many times a young one will look physically mature and appear mentally mature enough to be doing more than what we should be asking them to do. Just because they can do it, doesn't mean they should be doing it.

                                      I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I've never been in a situation where bringing a horse along slowly has backfired (and I don't mean the horses left in a pasture until they are full grown--I believe in doing things with them from a young age, just not over doing it). However, I've seen many young horses wrecked from being brought along too quickly--both physically and mentally.


                                      • #59
                                        I just wondered if anyone checked before they made the assertion that there were more accidents today then "the good ol days." I was at Rolex in the late 80's and watched three horses in a row rotate over the same fence. Or what about the video documentation of Karen Stives' fall back in the young Wofford years, where her heart stopped after her horse fell on her.

                                        Just because we have near-immediate information now does not mean perception = reality. Go watch the video of the, what was it 76?, Games at Bromont. There's a heck of a lot of carnage on there.

                                        So, I would say no, my enjoyment has not been affected -- because I came in knowing the risks and with a priority towards safety and making the right decisions for MY HORSE. That has not changed nor will it ever, because I do not take lightly my responsibilities (not saying anyone does not, simply saying I came in eyes wide open).
                                        Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                        Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                        We Are Flying Solo


                                        • #60
                                          This thread is so far following the script.
                                          Well, it either gets discussed, or it doesn't. What other sort of direction can something like this take, other than condolences and expressions of sympathy (which came immediately) and discussion and speculation on what may have happened, with typical, normal divergence?

                                          Should these topics a) ALWAYS be discussed, every day? b) NEVER be discussed, no matter what? c) ONLY discussed when they are "top of mind"? or d) OTHER? How many days or weeks should pass before it is "appropriate" to talk about it? Does just wondering and saying nothing make people change their thinking, or is shared dialogue (even if occasionally uncomfortable) have a place?

                                          doesn't any horse that dies at an event get one as part of the process so some of these issues can be addressed in case there is a link found?
                                          That is the current goal, and has been implimented, AFAIK, on 100% of horse fatalities in the US over the past year or more. Happily, the numbers have been few, although even 1 is too many.

                                          It is clear Denny is right
                                          With all due respect to Denny, it is anything BUT clear. His idea is a popular one and may have an enormous amount of merit, but the FACT is that we don't really know this with certainty.

                                          So if anyone wishes to DO SOMETHING other than talk/speculate, might I make a small plea for even a five dollar donation to one of the several research initiatives that the USEA has to help answer these questions with facts? I am going to do so right now, in honor of that nice mare.
                                          Click here before you buy.