Calls for change after rider suffers serious injuries in trot-up incident at show

  • Calls for change have been made after a rider suffered broken ribs and a lacerated liver when her horse kicked her during an international trot-up.

    Lisa Marriott was taken to hospital and was in intensive care after the incident at Addington CDI on 16 March. Lisa and others who were there have told H&H they had concerns over the safety of the situation at the time.

    Olympic rider Richard Davison, who has organised as well as taking part in many vet checks, told H&H the system on the day had merits, in that it was designed to operate one way to avoid accidents.

    “But it was made difficult to implement because it was spread over a large area of the showground, with the collecting area not visible from the stables and also too far away from the actual horse inspection,” he said. “The effect was that the stewards ushered too many horses out of their stables far too early and this resulted in queues on the paths as the collecting area became full. Horses were fresh in the March wind and were getting difficult the longer they were held up.”

    Richard said he would have expected stewards to have revised the plan to taken action to mitigate the backlog of horses, adding: “They all had radios so it seems odd that they didn’t.”

    “Ultimately we riders are responsible for the control of our horses and the safety of ourselves and others and this type of handling accident can happen in any environment; we’ve had it happen at home unfortunately so I urge everyone to take care,” he said.

    “I’ve spoken with Lisa and she is in a lot of pain and understandably missing her son. She became emotional as she talked about the overwhelming support and kindness she is receiving and is keen to express her gratitude. We riders are all ready to support Lisa and her family during this difficult time.”

    Craig Messenger, who was at Addington with Dan Watson, is a friend of Lisa’s and saw the incident.

    “I know the horse and he doesn’t normally get buzzy at trot-ups,” Craig told H&H. “He got scared and bolted, she tried to hang on, as anyone would, and ended up behind him. She got kicked straight in the stomach with both back legs and it sent her into orbit.”

    Craig agreed that the main issue was that of too many horses, hanging around.

    “There were ponies in one arena and young riders in the other one [doing arena familiarisation] and we were expected to gather in the middle arena,” he said. “Then we were supposed to wait till we were called to the main indoor school but there were just too many horses.

    “We made the stewards aware it wasn’t safe; there were mares and stallions, ponies and young riders on either side. I walked to a steward and said ‘This really isn’t safe’. It was a dangerous situation and poor Lisa did everything right, but it was a buzzy atmosphere and everything was setting everything else off.”

    None of those who were there wants to damn Addington; they praised the venue and the show. But Craig said he and Dan have contacted the FEI and would like to see measures taken to avoid such a situation in future.

    “What we want is to raise awareness,” he said. “Yes, horses are horses but we need to let everyone know, and make it as safe as we can. It was a freak accident and there wasn’t much more that could be done at the time but moving forward, it would be really good to make sure it’s safe for everyone.”

    A joint statement put out by British Dressage (BD) and Addington said they would work with the FEI and officials to carry out a full investigation, gathering statements from riders on site who saw the incident.

    “We appreciate that this was distressing for those who were present, but if you would like to contribute to the investigation, please send your witness statements to: ceo@britishdressage.co.uk,” the statement reads. “Equine welfare and rider safety is our paramount consideration, and we want to do whatever we can to prevent similar accidents occurring in the future.

    “British Dressage would like to reassure all our riders that we will take the necessary learnings from this incident and work with the FEI and Addington Equestrian to implement any recommended measures.  In the meantime, we would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to Lisa and her family at this difficult time, with our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.”

    Lisa told H&H she does not want to point fingers or apportion blame; she just wants to recover and get home to her son. She said she was turning her horse back towards the stables once she realised there was “no safe place to walk” when the incident happened, adding that she has had the horse for 10 years and has never had a problem in their many trot-ups together.

    “I love Addington as a venue and appreciate what an accident is, however I feel this was one that could have been avoided,” she said.

    BD told H&H: “This falls outside of BD’s jurisdiction, as the FEI determines how the horse inspections should be managed at international competition, and they apply a consistent approach across all disciplines. However, we will of course share the feedback provided by our riders with the FEI and will support any recommendations we feel are worthy of further consideration.”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H: “The FEI veterinary regulations set out the rules and procedures to be followed at horse inspections; the goal of which is to ensure a safe procedure at the horse inspection. The planning of the horse inspection(s) at an event is a matter for the relevant organising committee who is best placed to do so given their familiarity with the venue, infrastructure and anticipated number of entries.

    “The FEI is liaising with the Addington CDI organising committee, British Equestrian and the relevant officials to get a full understanding of what happened. At this point, the FEI would like to wish Ms. Marriott a complete and quick recovery.”

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