Eventer who abandoned warm-up to save spectator’s life goes on to jump double clear

A rider who leapt off her horse to help save the life of a spectator who had suffered a suspected heart attack at an event went on to jump double clear.

Jenny Gaskell was warming up for her showjumping round in the intermediate novice at Frickley Park Horse Trials on Sunday (28 July) when she saw the man collapsed on the ground.

The retained firefighter performed CPR until event doctors and paramedics arrived on the scene to treat the man, whose condition is believed to be improving.

“I was going to withdraw after the dressage because the weather was so awful and it was only his second event at that level; I didn’t want to lose his confidence,” Jenny told H&H.

“But we ummed and ahhed for a couple of hours, said we’d walk the course and see, and then I got on and rode as we were first in.

“I went for a quick last lap of the warm-up arena and saw the gentleman on the floor.”

Jenny jumped off her horse, nine-year-old Mycathlly Zilando Image, and ran to help.

“I pulled the man on to his back, checked for breathing and a pulse and realised he was unconscious so I started to perform CPR,” she said.

Jenny used an oral tube to allow the man to breathe, and carried on with chest compressions, as help arrived on the scene. Eventually, the man came round.

“He was in the best hands,” Jenny said. “I jumped back on my horse and continued.

“They’d held a place for me so I had a trot round and a jump, then went in. I was thinking it wasn’t a good time as the air ambulance was just landing, but he jumped one of only four clears in the section, which was amazing.”

Jenny was held before her cross-country start owing to a torrential downpour, but then “flew round” for a jumping clear, finishing in 13th place.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said.

“I work for Humberside Fire & Rescue and I’ve used the first aid before but didn’t expect it to be anything like that, I thought he might have fallen or something.

“But your training comes back to you and you just do it. It makes you feel proud that you’ve been able to help.”

Also proud is Jenny’s mum Julie Forbes, who was at the event to help Jenny.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she told H&H. “She was doing the CPR for ages, then the man started breathing again. Then when she jumped clear, we were all crying. She deserves a massive mention.”

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Frickley joint-organiser Vanessa Fleming told H&H: “Jenny was amazing.

“He was a very unlucky, lucky man; unfortunate that it happened but at least it was here, with all the medical help. Jenny kept the whole thing going; if he survives, it’s down to her.”

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service confirmed it was called to Frickley to a suspected cardiac arrest, and a man in his 50s was taken to hospital, where it is believed he is on the mend.

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