A paramedic has claimed that British Eventing (BE) officials “risked the life” of a female competitor and medical professionals at Brooksby Melton College Horse Trials last month (28 September).

Nigel Labrum, from Ise Valley Ambulance Service, told H&H that after a serious fall — in which the rider was unconscious for seven minutes — he was “repeatedly hassled” about the time it would take to get the course running again.

He also said that the course was restarted before the ambulance, paramedics and doctors had cleared the area.

Mr Labrum maintains that as a result of the restart the ambulance had to brake as it met a competitor head-on, and that the air ambulance was delayed from landing.

Mr Labrum told H&H that having been taken to Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, the competitor was diagnosed with a broken neck at cervical vertebrae C7, sustained a further four spinal fractures at thoracic vertebrae T7, T8, T9, and T10 and suffered 10 rib fractures.

“The mishandling or rushed handling of this patient could have resulted in paralysis and, particularly in relation to the neck fracture, could have resulted in her death,” Mr Labrum told H&H.

Restarting the course put lives at risk. Not only was there one seriously injured casualty, but it risked the life of my staff, the doctor and the rider of the horse that was on course.

“It was one of the most stupid and reckless things I have ever seen at an equestrian event.”

H&H contacted British Eventing about the claim. The organisation said it was following up on the complaint but that it would be “inappropriate to comment further at this time since there will inevitably be two sides to this.”

“I have complete faith in our officials and I know that BE staff put the safety and welfare of rider and horse as the number one priority at all times,” added BE’s Mike Etherington-Smith.

Petra Williams, from Brooksby Melton College, told H&H that the matter now needed to be resolved between BE and Mr Labrum.

“I have been in contact with her [the casulty’s] husband. Our thoughts are with him and her son, which is where we feel they should be at this stage,” she added.

This news story was originally published in Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday 9 October, 2014