A teenage rider narrowly escaped serious injury when a cross-country fence at an Australian Pony Club Victoria event tipped over when hit by his horse.
Eddie Quine was competing at the event organised by the Stratford branch of Australian Pony Club Victoria on 2 April when the accident happened.
The 17-year-old was leading the grade two (90cm) class after the dressage when his horse Heff hit the seventh fence on the cross-county with his knees.
The house-style fence tipped up, causing the horse to fall and land partly inside the upturned obstacle. The gelding seriously injured his mouth and jaw, requiring treatment at a nearby veterinary hospital.
“He clipped the jump and the jump followed, causing his front feet to get stuck under the jump which made him fall nose-first into the ground,” explained Eddie, who has been riding the 16.2hh thoroughbred for seven months.
“If the jump hadn’t moved, he would have been able to correct himself.”
As there was no veterinary cover on site, Heff had to be taken to a nearby veterinary hospital for treatment.
Eddie told H&H his ride was recovering “very well” from his injury, which saw his gums grazed back almost to the bone.
“He’s eating and acting himself again,” added Eddie. “He was lucky he didn’t lose any teeth or break any bones.”
Having built up his confidence with Heff — progressing from grade four (65cm) events to jumping 1m10 courses in a few months — Eddie says he is now “scared” about going cross-country.
“I never thought it would happen to me,” he said.
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In a statement, Pony Club Victoria said it had “conducted a review of the processes and procedures” used by the Stratford Pony Club horse trials organising committee and found they “adhered to the rules, process and procedure” for conducting an event of this size.
“Pony Club Victoria has determined that the obstacle was a solid box-type fence constructed on a pine frame with marine cladding . The fence was pegged at the front and internally,” the statement said. “The weather was fine, a warm, partially cloudy day with good visibility. The jump was early in the course at number seven on a flat, well-grassed section of the course.”
They statement added that both horse and rider had regained their feet unassisted and that first aid officers were on the scene immediately to attend to the rider, who was uninjured.
“Pony Club Victoria will continue to review its rules and procedures to ensure compliance with best practice and to support clubs and club officials with the running of events,” the statement concluded.
A spokesman for Equestrian Australia (EA) said it could not comment on the incident, as the Pony Club is a separate entity and outside of its jurisdiction.
EA is heavily focused on improving horse and rider safety, following two event rider fatalities in 2016, and recently employed a national safety officer.
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