Event rider Ruth Mathieson is in intensive care with a spinal injury following a freak fall at Nurstead Court Horse Trials in Kent on 30 April.

Ruth, 38, had been competing in a novice section when she fell from her eight-year-old mare Ameya at a combination of hanging roll-tops two-thirds of the way around the course.

Eyewitnesses say that the horse hit the second part of the combination hard and, although it landed on the other side of the fence, the force caused Ruth to fall forwards and sideways.

It wasn’t a rotational fall — the horse didn’t land on her,” Nurstead’s joint-organiser Ginny Walliker told H&H.

It is understood that Ruth was wearing a body protector but not an air vest.

The fence had been resited from last year, but was deemed relatively straightforward and had not caused any other significant problems during the day.

The event was held up for an hour on the Saturday while Ruth was airlifted to King’s College Hospital, London. From there she was transferred to a specialist spinal injuries unit where her progress is being closely monitored.

Ruth recently decided to take a career break from a full-time marketing job to concentrate on eventing.

She is based at Littleton Manor Equestrian Centre in Reigate and has competed up to CCI** level.

Ruth’s long-term prognosis is still unclear, but her brother Alan said: “We are all extremely grateful and humbled by the messages of support Ruth has received over the past few days. She is a fighter and she has an amazing bunch of friends, which will no doubt stand her in great stead over the coming months.”

British Eventing’s training and safety co-ordinator Carolyn Simm said: “We have not received official confirmation of Ruth’s current condition, but will be following her progress.”

Ruth’s family has said that a support fund may be established in due course to help provide her with the future care she might need.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (12 May, 2011)