Suggestions that endurance riders should wear eventing-style medical armbands are being considered by the FEI and Endurance GB (EGB) after the death of a Japanese rider following a fall at Euston Park.
Mitsuko Masui, 73, was competing in the CEI*** 160km ride at the Norfolk venue on 11 July when she was found on the ground by British rider Kirsty Wiscombe (report, 22 July).
The rider was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge by air ambulance, where she died the next day. Her death seems to have been due to a medical condition rather than a riding accident.
Ms Masui’s death has prompted Euston Park president James MacEwan to urge EGB and the FEI to adopt medical cards for competitors.
“Endurance has just as high a risk assessment as eventing because of the vast distances in the saddle involved,” he said.
“And, from an organiser’s point of view, if you come across a rider who is unconscious, or possibly does not speak English, it is very helpful for them to be carrying a card that says who they are.”
The eventing medical armband includes the rider’s name, address, age and contact number, as well as a medical history.
Mr MacEwan said he offered medical armbands to riders at Euston Park on 25 July, but he wants it to be made obligatory.
A spokesman for EGB said it would review health and safety measures, but believes the risk to riders is low.
She said: “In addition to stewards and medical expertise on site, riders are also required to wear a tag that gives an emergency number for the event in which they are competing.
“We will await the coroner’s report to see if anything can be learned from the incident at Euston Park.”
An FEI spokesman said: “The FEI takes the safety of its riders extremely seriously and will consider whether mandatory armbands for riders are advisable.”
British rider Christine Yeoman wore an armband at Weston Park, but said she lost it on the 100-mile ride.
“I think they are a good idea but they need to be a bit more sturdy for endurance — you can be in the saddle for eight or nine hours,” she told H&H.
And Kirsty Wiscombe said she was also happy to wear an armband.
Norfolk coroner William Armstrong has opened and adjourned an inquest into Ms Masui’s death.
She was a vet and a highly experienced competitor who had visited Europe and the United Arab Emirates for endurance rides since 2003.
She represented Japan at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, and completed the 2009 120km CEI** CRON Endurance Race in Spain.
EGB chairman Jo Claridge added: “Mitsuko was an inspiration to riders worldwide for competing at such an advanced level at her age.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (5 August, ’10)