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Two dead in one day. How many is acceptable?

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  • Two dead in one day. How many is acceptable?

    Southern Pines is a gorgeous place for an event. The day was 75 degrees and sunny. The footing was great. The jumps were beautifully constructed. The course seemed to ride fair for many horses.
    And yet the score is 2 horses dead and at least one more (that I saw) vanned off (I spent 1/2 the day at the Prelim stadium jumping, so several more could have ben vanned off that I did not hear about.)

    What can be done to avoid killing these talented, wiling horses who give their all? I am a H/J rider. I do not consider myself a bleeding heart, but I was sickened by today. People should not be able to put horses in such a position as to cause such a high liklihood of loss of life or injury. Maybe 3 day is an anachronism whose time has passed.
    "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

    Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump

  • Original Poster

    Southern Pines is a gorgeous place for an event. The day was 75 degrees and sunny. The footing was great. The jumps were beautifully constructed. The course seemed to ride fair for many horses.
    And yet the score is 2 horses dead and at least one more (that I saw) vanned off (I spent 1/2 the day at the Prelim stadium jumping, so several more could have ben vanned off that I did not hear about.)

    What can be done to avoid killing these talented, wiling horses who give their all? I am a H/J rider. I do not consider myself a bleeding heart, but I was sickened by today. People should not be able to put horses in such a position as to cause such a high liklihood of loss of life or injury. Maybe 3 day is an anachronism whose time has passed.
    "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

    Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


    • #3
      Lord Helpus -- leaving aside the more philospohical question you've asked about the danger of eventing in general -- can you give us more details about what happened? What horses and riders? I can't find any breaking news online -- the USEA's was last updated 2/28 - not exactly breaking news!

      My rig was the horse ambulance/removal vehicle last weekend at Red Hills and we were so pleased to not have to use it. This is so scary and sad.

      I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
      Higher Standards Custom Leather Care -- Handcrafted Saddle Soap


      • #4

        That's so sad [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] I have friends who event, and they all know a couple people who have lost a horse at an event---granted, I live in a very active eventing area so 3/4 of the riders are eventers---but, it's still too much for me. Accidents can happen anywhere, but there is a huge difference between risking your horse's life and falling victim to an accident. I think people tend to blur that line in the heat of the moment, but it's part of our responsibility as rider and caretaker of our horses to keep them safe and sound. I hope the horses didn't suffer [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]


        • #5
          Give us more details, Lord Helpus.

          I've been around the eventing scene for five years now, and I've never seen one die at an event, particularly as the result of an accident.

          When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.


          • #6
            At southern pines [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img] Oh that is awful. and very unusual! Please fill us in. Tradgetys happen, but 2 in one day. Not good! and here in the US, [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]

            "Those who would give up
            essential Liberty, to
            purchase a little temporary
            Safety, deserve neither
            Liberty nor Safety" Benjamin
            Franklin, 1755


            • #7
              I was there and saw one horse. It met a fence wrong, happens all the time, but he sort of fell into the fence. It was a young rider intermediate horse. I heard after I left that an adanced horse was hurt at a weldon's wall. Also put down. As we were standing around, people were of course telling stories about horses who broke their leg being led in from the pasture and similar tales. The fences were all beautifully constructed and the horses were very experienced. It was terribly sad, but no one is to blame. These horses are not the type to be happy cantering around a hunter course or doing dressage. They love their jobs. It is terrible that this happen when so much care went into the courses, footing and preparation of the horses. It is heart breaking, but we will all be out next weekend, loving our horses and doing the same thing....


              • #8
                ...I don't really feel comfortable giving out specific details, I'm not sure I have the right to release such horrible news. However, you can visit http://www.fivepointshorsepark.com/spht02_results.html and look down the results. They are listed as mandatory retirements. There were two who had to be euthanised, of the 3 MR's.

                As far as Lord Helpus's question, How many is acceptable? They way I see it one is too many, however, accidents do happen. I'm not sure that eventing is far more dangerous than jumpers or racing. I would bet that more are put down, racing than eventing. I think this is a horrendous and should be prevented when possible, but I think the care given to event horses is superior to any other sport. The stereotype of just running your horse into dangerous combinations is simply not true.


                • Original Poster

                  The accident I saw was the advanced horse Sporting Image and Diane Roffe. I was on the far side of the jump (a sturdy log jump with a well defined ditch in front that gave no other horse any problem the entire day). The jump judge said it appeared that the rider tried for a long spot, but the horse seemed not to notice the ditch until the last minute and slammed to a stop, sending the rider over the jump and the horse chest first into the logs, which he moved back 1 foot, before falling backwards into the ditch.

                  He was worked on for almost an hour, before vets determined that he was permanently paralyzed behind (and not just stunned and in shock) and he was euthanized.

                  The other horse was an intermediate horse who snapped his leg. People said the sound was so loud it sounded like a rifle shot though the pine woods. I was at a different part of the course, so I have no details, but earlier I had seen horses jump that fence and it was a "safe" straightforward fence that did not cause a lot of other problems (I believe).

                  My issues with these deaths are that they happened at all. Who cares if 213 horses cleared the jump, if the 214th died jumping it? Does that make the jump safe? Does that excuse the death of those horses?

                  The advanced rider had already ridden the course twice. Does that mean she was competent to ride it? Does it mean she was tired and should be restricted to 2 rides per day?

                  I heard that the prior event had ben cancelled due to weather/footing so that these horses came into S Pines without a prep run. Should S Pines have adjusted their course/time allowed because of that? (Maybe they did, I don't know). I do know that Mark Phillips and Jack Fritz were all over that course yesterday, and I would guess that they are 2 of the wisest names in the business.

                  People were muttering that riders were pushing for that all important "completion" to qualify to run at Foxhall(?) and Rolex. Implying that they might be taking horses around who were not quite ready/fit because of the prior cancellation of the other event just to get a "completion" against their name. I do not know the rules in your sport, but I do understand pressure to qualify and it makes people make unwise decisions.

                  As someone who feels strongly about the success of the Southern Pines Horse Park, I am doubly saddened that this gorgeous event has had such a pall cast over it. Last year was its first year and, evidently many riders thought that the prelim course was too hard for horses just moving up at the beginning of the season (there were many refusals and falls, but no accidents). And now this happens at Intermediate and Advanced.

                  Should there be more stringent requirements before horse and rider combo's can move up? I know horses must meet a minimum criteria, but from whoat I saw in the stadium yesterday, there is an ENORMOUS discrepancy of ability in riding at prelim level. Some of those young riders should have been at training level perfecting their skills there [one out of 5 getting 1.5 strides in a tight 2 stride combination because they had no ability to get the horse back to them after the first element. Really scary.] I shudder to think what will happen today when they tackle the cross country. I won't be there watching it, that's for sure.

                  [This message was edited by Lord Helpus on Mar. 17, 2002 at 09:14 AM.]
                  "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                  Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                  • #10
                    Horses dying in any sport is not cool, but to point fingers at eventing is not fair...

                    Just reading the hunter/jumper forums and Off Course this week presented the death of What Nu in jumping, the bad crash at the Qualifier, and old history I remember - the horse with the pole through its chest a while back....

                    Just bringing some perspective to these posts...eventing is not the only sport where horses have died. While eventers where concerned with qualifiying for Foxhall, what about the show jumpers trying to qualify for the world cup.

                    Take a deep breath before saying that eventing is past its day, that just paves the way to eliminating all equestrian sports where a horse is relatively put in danger. Now, talking about safety is one thing, but condemning a sport because of freak accidents is another.


                    • #11
                      I know that folks are upset. I am too: the thought of losing a horse that I love and care for in the middle of a ride scares me, just as I know it scares everyone who competes, events, jumps, or trailrides. We do our best: we train, school, condition, and care for our horses so that accidents don't happen. Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen in any equine endeavor. Our sympathies and condolences for the riders, owners, and others who were close to those horses. I don't think any of us can imagine what they are going through right now, and heaping blame on them or asking if they were too tired to ride the course is not going to help them or the sport.


                      • #12
                        Good questions.

                        I love riding cross country courses, but have not ridden in a horse trial or event in 10 years. For the first 5 or so, it was because I had a young child, no money, and no time. Then, when I started to look into it again, riders were dying, horses "chesting" fences, then flipping over seemed to be the reason in a lot of those.

                        There was a lot of talk about rider qualificiations, horse experience, and on and on. The fact is, eventing requires the acceptance of a higher level of risk of injury to both horse and rider than does hunters, dressage or even jumpers. Yes, accidents can happen in all of those, but it doesn't SEEM to happen as often.

                        I do not wish to have eventing banned, and don't get involved in the making of their rules. I also do not compete in it, haven't joined the organizations and am not yet comfortable with my skills as both a rider and a horseman (well, woman) to not allow the "heat of the moment" to override my better judgement.

                        When I go school XC, I can choose to jump ONLY what I feel my horse is capable of jumping. If, I want to skip fence X because of footing, visibility, trappiness, even just I chickened out, I can. If I have signed up for an event, paid my fees, I must be willing to withdraw if I see a riding combination that I don't like, giving up an entire weekend. And, I must trust that the course will be suitable to my level, be that BN, N, Training, Prelim, on up.

                        This means that I may not be "pushing" myself enough, not "improving" or "developing", but that's ok. I love my horses and I'm not sure that I could convince myself that it was a "freak accident" should one of mine get a fatal injury on course.

                        There was a horse badly injured at the last event I watched, the VHT, and it was disturbing, I do not recall if the horse was put down, I think it was. OTOH, there were a LOT of riders out there who were over-mounted, overfaced, and also, just needed a lot more hours of time before showing, much less eventing, IMO.

                        With that, I'm going to head over to FPP IV and watch a few minutes of our fellow members have fun schooling! I can't take horses today because I have a workshop to attend and my horse is up in Westminster, MD where I'm riding in a dressage clinic again tomorrow.


                        • #13
                          One the the qualities in humans that I find most troubling is the self proclaimed right to pass judgement on others.
                          I don't think the poster who pointed out that horses have died in other competitions was in any way saying that it is alright for horses to die eventing, but merely pointing out that horrible accidents can and do happen anywhere.
                          Eventing builds such a bond between horse and rider that the loss of a horse, especially in this way, would be devastating beyond words.
                          However, like most eventers, I am not happy with a life lived in perfect controlled safety.
                          Most eventers take every possible precaution to insure the safety of their horses and themselves, but the sport inherently contains risk. That risk is one of the elements of the bond between horse and rider. Event horses truly love their job, there is no way to force an animal to perform the way that they do. They, of course, have no concept of the risk involved. They also have no concept of the risk involved when they gallop wildly across a pasture or engage in mock fights with each other. They simply enjoy the excitement of the movement and physical challenge, yet many horses are destroyed because of injuries sustained in pasture accidents. Horses, for all their size and strength, are in may ways fragile creatures. We do our best to protect them, without actually wrapping them up in cotton and shielding them from life.
                          Please don't presume to judge the sport or the reactions of the participants who love the sport when a tragedy occurs.

                          charter member BEQS Clique & Invisible Poster Clique
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                          • #14
                            What would be so awful about building x-country fences that were more forgiving. Something tells me the event horses would still jump them, for heaven's sake. The jump judges might be a little busier and need more training, but I don't see that as a viable deterrent to making the sport safer for our wonderful, trusting and brave horses. One can still make the jumps APPEAR to be solid, I would think.

                            One thing that really bothered me was Pam's observation about the Stadium Jumping phase, (which I thought was after the x-country, not before - but anyway), where 20% of the riders were not able to put the correct amount of strides in a 2-stride combination!!!!???? Hello??? If they can't do that in a controlled environment, they have NONONONONONO business going around a cross country course. Shame on them and/or their trainers, if they have any. I can see an occasional problem with controlling an excited horse in a short 2-stride, but that many tells me that there is more a problem here.

                            The above spoken, I DO agree that the top event horses are extemely well taken care of and I admire incredibly the top event riders. It takes a rare breed to reach that level, from both the equine and human standpoints.

                            I have heard that there are requirements for both horse and rider before they are able to move up the ranks. Is this true and do you eventers think they are adequate?

                            Please know that I am not slamming eventers. I just think that ALL of us need to be re-evaluating our sports in these days and times and be open minded about suggestions as to making them safer.
                            \"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.\" -- Ralph Waldo E


                            • #15
                              Well said BarbB.

                              Why can't my horse just be normal?? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]


                              • #16
                                Thanks, BarbB

                                Just trying to add a little perspective to the discussion...never been called "idiotic and twisted" before, though! As I always say "takes one to know one."

                                Oh, and Zeus, before going off and calling another poster names, make sure you read the post correctly - I never said it was OK for any horse to die - I don't care for people who try to put words in my mouth.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by LordHelpus:

                                  <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Some of those young riders should have been at training level perfecting their skills there [one out of 5 getting 1.5 strides in a tight 2 stride combination because they had no ability to get the horse back to them after the first element. Really scary.] <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                  I have also noticed this problem, and posted about it several months back. Riders (at all levels) are not ready to be riding the courses they are. I was disgusted by the poor riding in both x-c and stadium while watching (and fence-judging) one of the bigger horse trials in the area last fall. Unexperienced kids who were going novice on horses who were waaaayyyyyy too green to be attempting to jump 2'3", nevermind 3'. So-called "pros", whose multiple trips on clients horses were so bad that it made me cringe to watch (this particular pro couldn't find a distance to save her life, left the first two stadium fences from huge gappy spots, hitting the horse in the mouth both times. The horse then proceeds to bolt around the course and "deer jump" every single fence. This is after I had seen her on x-c the day before... completely boffed her line to a huge intermediate cordwood pile. The horse, thank god, stalled out and stopped, saving her from what would have been a complete disaster... and she proceeds to whale on him with the bat, as if *he* had done the poor riding, picked the bad line and caused the stop. I wished I could have used the bat on *her*. Moron.)

                                  While I fully believe that the case with Dianne Roffe was a freak accident, I am surprised we don't see more bad accidents at the lower levels. The USCTA has made a huge effort to make eventing more available and less "elitist", and it seems that a major lashback has been a "dumbing down" of the sport. People are not fully aware of the risks involved, and are not prepared to ride even beginner novice courses, nevermind prelim.

                                  What is the solution to this? I wish I knew. All equestrian sports have inherent risk for both horse and rider. But I do know that after being away from eventing and in the "A" h/j scene for several years, you will not find the h/j kids "cowboying" around and being unable to ride the course (granted, the h/j's have a whole different set of problems, but we're talking about the ability to safely ride the course you are competing over). The major difference is that there is a sense of accountability in the "A"'s- almost every rider is with a trainer, and the trainer will not allow you to compete in a class in which you will make a fool of yourself (and, by association, your trainer).

                                  These are my observations and opinions- I know many of you feel differently. Flame away...


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Duffy:

                                    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>What would be so awful about building x-country fences that were more forgiving. One can still make the jumps APPEAR to be solid, I would think. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                                    There has been alot of research into this... and they have run into some problems. One of the major ones is how to make the fence safely break apart. There is fear that if a fence is made to collapse upon impact, the individual pieces might do damage to both horse and rider.

                                    As it stands now, if horse and rider are travelling at any speed and hit an obstable, the rider tends to get thrown clear of the obstacle and the horse. Would the physics of a collapsing obstacle change this? And what if the horse and rider *aren't* moving at speed- could parts of the fence collapse onto them and trap them? What if the horse decides to bank an obstacle, but the obstacle is collapsible? That could be disastrous.

                                    These are just some of the questions that eventing officials are working out in the quest to make x-c safer for both horse and rider.


                                    • #19
                                      First off...humans love to put themselves in risky situations, as you can see by horse sports, but also other non-horsey sports. Horse sports aren't the only places where death can occur. People drive cars around in a pack at high speeds and crash and blow up...people launch off snowbanks and can fall on their heads...people jump off bridges and leave their lives to the mercy of a rope tied to their feet, etc etc. Yes, there is another living being involved in horse sports, but those are just the chances we take.

                                      Second...I had been thinking about how there could/should be some sort of system where people have to pass a certain thing before being allowed to move up. I'm not saying do a certain amout of events, just barely making it around. Some way that can prove you and the horse have the ablity to move up safely. Possibility within each area, have several experienced people in charge that oversee everyone and can step in and not allow someone to move up if their riding seems unsafe (that might be hard to understand, but I'm thinking something like the equivalent to a pony club DC or RS). But, of course, this would probably get an awful response from tons of riders because it would be viewed as a pain in the butt, unneccesary, whatever. Oh well, but something should definitally be done.

                                      Poombadesign [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

                                      "It's Friday afternoon...do you know where YOUR Chronicle is??????"

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                                      • #20
                                        Boy did that ever need saying, I was going to get a little riled if I had replyed! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                                        "Those who would give up
                                        essential Liberty, to
                                        purchase a little temporary
                                        Safety, deserve neither
                                        Liberty nor Safety" Benjamin
                                        Franklin, 1755