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New York Times: "Equestrian Rider's Recovery Serves as Reminder"

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  • New York Times: "Equestrian Rider's Recovery Serves as Reminder"

    From the NY Times (02/22/09): "Equestrian Rider's Recovery Serves as Reminder"

    NYT writer Katie Thomas follows up her eventing safety articles of last year with an excellent piece on Darren Chiacchia's recovery and return to the sport.

    Some excerpts:

    “The sport has looked at itself very seriously, and has made some adjustments that had been looked at before,” said David O’Connor, the president of the equestrian federation. “And those are having an effect worldwide, as well as in our country.”

    Chiacchia said the safety measures did not go far enough, were too slow in coming, and focused too much on the behavior of riders, something that did not contribute to his fall. He said he would like to see the sport mandate the use of breakable fences, for example, rather than put money toward studying them.

    “To make the sport safer, we have to make some fairly aggressive changes, and unfortunately the leadership of the equestrian community does not feel the same way,” he said.
    Ralph Hill, an Olympic rider who spent eight weeks in a coma after a similar accident in 2007, said he was impressed with Chiacchia’s drive. “What Darren did was he acted like a competitor; he wanted to show everybody that he could still compete,” said Hill, who is back riding and teaching but has not yet returned to competition. “Right now, if you saw him riding, I believe that you would probably say he’s a good rider, but wonder how many years he’s been in the sport.”
    The article gives a sobering, empathetic view of Darren C in particular and TBIs in general. Brain injury is a complex issue as well as a very emotional one and it's clear he's been through a lot.

    I know Katie Thomas has posted here before and hope she still checks in from time to time. This is a really good article for a mainstream paper and I applaud her continuing interest in eventing.
    Last edited by JER; Feb. 23, 2009, 12:21 PM. Reason: fixed link

  • #2
    Well this is going to raise a few eyebrows...
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

    Comment


    • #3
      Oh boy. Break out the booze and popcorn. Pop, crunch crunch.

      Comment


      • #4
        So you like to drink a 40 while munching on your cheddar popcorn?
        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by LexInVA View Post
          Well this is going to raise a few eyebrows...
          And perhaps some hackles as well.

          Comment


          • #6
            Quoted from an article referencing Chiacchia:

            He said he would like to see the sport mandate the use of breakable fences, for example, rather than put money toward studying them.
            Oh, God, this is a really poor statement, and one reason I am considering not eventing at all any more. Definately puts a kink in my plans.

            Building fences that will break without any study related to how they might collapse in unpredictable ways is not a very good idea IMO.

            Anyway, back to your popcorn and beer.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by flyingchange View Post
              Oh boy. Break out the booze and popcorn. Pop, crunch crunch.
              I think the importance of a balanced diet can not be ignored. Can we have some sugary snacks to balance out the salt and the booze? We might be here awhile....

              Comment


              • #8
                NYT Article Today on Darren Chiacchia

                http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/sp...s/23rider.html


                Ooops sorry I see this was already posted. Mods, please delete.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have several concerns here:
                  1. "He can be excused some mistakes"
                  FALSE: not when the life of the horse is at risk.

                  2."Because he still does not fully trust his organizational skills, he has hired a business manager, Lisa Marong. "He just wasn't sure what he could handle," she said."
                  FALSE: If you can not balance your check book you cant balance your horse around an advanced course. Sorry, but upper level executive brain function impairment does not stop because you motorically feel comfortable in the saddle.

                  This is bad for the sport. Sorry Daren, I wish you much personal success and you are of course entitled to earn a living in the equestrian world. I just wish you would not compete.
                  It takes a good deal of physical courage to ride a horse. This, however, I have. I get it at about forty cents a flask, and take it as required. ~Stephen Leacock

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                  • #10
                    and Coronas with lime...

                    Having had more unpleasant encounters with Darren this winter than I care to count, I will just take the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" road.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Besides other concerns, something else caught my eye. He apparently (this is a NY Times article so some facts may have been misinterpreted) did four wrong movements of a dressage test and was allowed to start over. Maybe he was at an unrecognized event and they cut him some slack. But at a recognized event, is this allowed?

                      I worry both because this could be a sign of mental unhealth and because it appears to me that this may be a case of an professional getting slack where an amateur would not be.

                      The concerns about issues balancing the checkbook and riding remind me of a story I read in a sports magazine. The college girl was in a horrific car accident. Prior to this, she was a basketball star - getting a scholarship for it. After this, she suffered from amnesia, not even remembering her father. She remembered nothing, including reading and writing, but when they put a basketball in her hands, she remembered and picked up the moves VERY quickly. I think that has a lot to do with all the conditioning done in practice. So the fact that he cannot balance a checkbook but still ride is not out of the realm of possibility.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree, JER, article was very well done. 'nuff said on Darren; that was a pretty choice couple of words from Ralph, no?
                        The big man -- my lost prince

                        The little brother, now my main man

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Apparently there are two threads about this same article, so I am going to post here as well...because I want to know stuff!

                          Besides other concerns, something else caught my eye. He apparently (this is a NY Times article so some facts may have been misinterpreted) did four wrong movements of a dressage test and was allowed to start over. Maybe he was at an unrecognized event and they cut him some slack. But at a recognized event, is this allowed?

                          I worry both because this could be a sign of mental unhealth and because it appears to me that this may be a case of an professional getting slack where an amateur would not be. Am I wrong?

                          The concerns about issues balancing the checkbook and riding remind me of a story I read in a sports magazine. The college girl was in a horrific car accident. Prior to this, she was a basketball star - getting a scholarship for it. After this, she suffered from amnesia, not even remembering her father. She remembered nothing, including reading and writing, but when they put a basketball in her hands, she remembered and picked up the moves VERY quickly. I think that has a lot to do with all the conditioning done in practice. So the fact that he cannot balance a checkbook but still ride is not out of the realm of possibility.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't comment on these types of things that often, but wanted to say a few things after reading this article.

                            PERSONALLY, I am a bit confused. He wants to be on the Olympic team in 2012, but is persuing other career options (horse sales / real estate). Which one is it?

                            I think it's a good thing that we are seeing a bit of Jekyll and Hyde. Maybe Darren is realizing that he's not invincible and perhaps becoming a little less arrogant?????

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you make an error in a dressage test, the judge will stop you and allow you to restart or start over at their discretion. I've seen this happen any number of times, especially when a rider is clearly doing the wrong test. I wouldn't read too much into that one. He'd get an error penalty, but not an "E".

                              It's a lay-press piece. Nothing I read makes me get all up in arms about DC's return to riding. I'm over that. If the USEA doesn't care, why should I?
                              Click here before you buy.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Thanks deltawave. I thought you got an elimination. I have seen pretty crazy looking tests that were allowed to continue, but only at unrecognized shows.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Ajierene View Post
                                  Besides other concerns, something else caught my eye. He apparently (this is a NY Times article so some facts may have been misinterpreted) did four wrong movements of a dressage test and was allowed to start over. Maybe he was at an unrecognized event and they cut him some slack. But at a recognized event, is this allowed?
                                  The first error of the test is a 2 point penalty and you get to start again at the place you made the error. The second error in the same test is a 4 point penalty and you get to start again at the place you made the error. The third error in the same test is an elimination and you are excused from the ring. Four errors in the same test is a problem if that is what occurred.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    missed the first few maneuvers of his dressage test during a low-level competition here, the judge asked him to stop midsequence.

                                    From their brief exchange, Chiacchia realized he had memorized the wrong test and started over. "It could have happened to anyone," said Chiacchia, who took four more horses through four more tests without missing a move.
                                    So, kind of hazy.. a 'few maneuvers'. Oh well. No big deal.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Chiacchia said the safety measures did not go far enough, were too slow in coming, and focused too much on the behavior of riders, something that did not contribute to his fall.
                                      If this is accurate, this comment really rubs me the wrong way.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        FWIW, I know plenty of people who cannot (reliably) balance a checkbook, but do just fine in other endeavors, even strenuous intellectual ones.
                                        Proud member of the EDRF

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