Bailey Wick, a horse for which US event rider Phillip Dutton had great hopes, had to be humanely destroyed at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** on Saturday (9 May).
The gelding somersaulted over an oxer that was the 20th of 32 fences on the cross-country course.
Dutton took the blame for the accident, saying he had miscalculated, asking the horse to move up at the jump.
Instead, the 10-year-old wound up chipping and hitting the obstacle.
As the chestnut tumbled, he threw Phillip clear, but the horse landed hard and did not get up.
The owners did not want a necropsy done to determine the cause of death.
Phillip was unhurt and able to continue riding his two mounts in the CIC*** that followed the CCI.
Bailey Wick, by the Irishbred sire Pallas Digion, finished fifth in the 2-star at Jersey Fresh last year.
The event at the Horse Park of New Jersey has been plagued by horse deaths in recent years, though this is the first resulting from a crash at a fence.
In 2007, Laine Ashker’s Eight St. James Place finished the cross-country, then collapsed from an aneurism.
Last year, David O’Connor’s Tigger Too, with a young rider in the saddle, fell over a fence and died. A necropsy determined the horse had an abdominal aortic rupture.
Mr O’Connor, the Olympic individual gold medalist who is president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, said: “It wasn’t the fence’s fault. Sometimes things happen when you’re traveling at speed and some little thing goes wrong.”
Noting the obstacle involved was a frangible fence, he said: “Things are still going to happen, even with a frangible fence. If we’re dealing with horses, things are going to go wrong.”
While he said the idea is to minimize that situation, Mr O’Connor added: “I don’t think we can ever, ever get to zero risk.”