Two eventing riders have been killed in cross-country accidents in Germany and Britain on Saturday, in accidents only hours apart. Adding to the dark day was the death of a horse at Luhmühlen.
Benjamin Winter (GER) – Luhmühlen
German rider Benjamin Winter, 25, was lying 12th at the Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany on his first ride Wild Thing Z, when he suffered a rotational fall with his second ride, Ispo, at fence 20, a table fence which had caused no other problems. He was taken by helicopter to Borberg Hospital in Hamburg but was pronounced dead on arrival from his head injuries.
Following a meeting between the event organisers and competitors, and at the request of Benjamin Winter’s family, it was agreed that the competition should continue at Luhmühlen, about 50km south of the northern German city of Hamburg. Riders will wear black armbands for the jumping phase and a short memorial ceremony will be held.
Winter was reportedly wearing an air jacket safety device, but was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
Winter was a member of Germany’s gold medal winning team at the 2006 European Junior Championships, and had also won two team silver medals and one bronze at European Young Rider Championships. At senior level, he was 13th in Luhmühlen at the 2011 Europeans and 18th last year in Malmö (SWE). Together with Ispo, he won the CIC2* at Luhmühlen in April this year.
Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General, expressed his profound regret at the tragedy. “The entire equestrian community is deeply distressed at this terrible news,” he said. “The safety and welfare of riders and horses is of prime importance at all FEI events, but sadly tragic accidents like this do happen.
“On behalf of the FEI and the whole sport I would like to express our most sincere condolences to Benjamin Winter’s family and his many friends on the Eventing circuit. He was a truly talented rider who was expected to go right to the top.”
A full investigation into the accident has been launched.
Jordan McDonald (CAN) – Nunney
Canadian rider Jordan McDonald, 30, died at the Nunney International Horse Trials in Somerset on Saturday.
McDonald was riding his own horse, Only Me, a seven-year-old gelding, in a novice class at the one-day-event. The horse was not injured.
Born in British Columiba, McDonald resided in Oakville, Ontario, but was currently based in Leicestershire in Great Britain with his wife, Shandiss McDonald. They had been married for a year.
McDonald was taken to Royal United Hospital, Bath, by ambulance, but could not be revived. A spokesman said he had suffered a “traumatic cardiac injury”.
Graeme Thom, Chair of Canadian Eventing High Performance Committee said: “The entire Canadian eventing community is devastated by this tragic event. I have known Jordan as a great friend for over a dozen years and also as a member of our national team program. My heart goes out to Shandiss, his lovely wife, and deepest love to his fantastic parents, caring siblings and all relations. I extend my sincerest condolences and equally those of our entire Canadian eventing family.”
The remainder of Saturday’s classes at the event, held at Southfield House, owned by Angela Yeoman MBE, on the outskirts of the village, was cancelled after the accident. Sunday’s programme will go ahead as scheduled. Nearly 800 horse are competing at the event.
Liberal – Luhmühlen
British rider Tom Crisp’s horse Liberal died after collapsing near fence eight at Luhmühlen. Crisp said that Liberal had set off well on the cross-country but then didn’t feel right after fence seven and, as he went to pull up, the horse collapsed. “We’re all very sad,” he said. “It’s a tough day.”
Britain’s Chef de Mission Will Connell thanked the organisers for their prompt response to the incident. “It happened very early on the course and was nothing to do with the fence. It was one of those very sad, regretful instances that happens in life.”
A post mortem will be conducted to establish the cause of death, although a ruptured aorta was suspected.
Liberal (Ryon d’Anzex x Patti du Riout), a 15-year-old French bred gelding, was owned by David and Clare Corney.
Known as “Red” at home, he had been with Crisp since he was five, and completed his first CCI4*at Pau, France in 2008 as a nine-year-old, finishing 19th. He was 13th at the Luhmuhlen CCI4* in 2009 and had a quiet year in 2010 due to injury. Liberal completed the Burghley CCI4* in 2011 and 2012, was fifth in the Hopetoun CIC3* in 2013, and 10th at Chatsworth in May, 2014.