Tuesday, May 17, 2016


A rider lost her life on Saturday while competing at the Upper Levels of the sport I love so much.  She did not start her day thinking that it would be her last.  And, I'm sure that her friends and fellow competitors did not think for a moment that she would not return.  The volunteer that checked her bit, the warm-up steward or the starter counting her down all wished her a good ride and expecting the very same thing.
Those ears...

Sometimes, it just happens.

And one rainy morning, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, I came up to the accident that caused our delay.  My timing was "impeccable" for the rescue team carried from, the little Corolla, a body bag.  It was the first time I ever saw something so final.  Later that evening, I read in the newspaper that a 26 year old girl never made it to work that morning.  Her tire blew and her car spun off the road into a guard rail.  She did not start her day thinking this was going to be her last.

Sometimes, it just happens.

What if?  What if that rider pulled her horse out of the stall with a nasty cut that morning?  Would it have saved her life?  What if she threw her leg over the back of a western pleasure horse, would she be home that evening kissing her daughter good night?

Folks that I know who walked that course did not feel that that particular fence was tricky, set in a way to confuse the horse/rider or offered a question so technical that it would prove to be fateful. Yet, in this case, the horse hooked a leg and tumbled over and onto its rider.  No one knows for sure...

Sometimes, it just happens.

My heart is so heavy for the loss of this beautiful young rider and mother.  The stories surfacing from her friends, associates and riders are of a person with a good, loving heart.  No, this shouldn't happen to anyone but it does.  Just like that young girl who never made it to work that day, this shouldn't happen.

But it does...

Equestrian activities are dangerous and there is an element of risk every time we ride.  Horses are unpredictable.  Years ago there was a rider at an event that left the door open to her horse's stall and she threw herself in front of her escaping precious pony and died from the blow to her head.

Sometimes, it just happens.

So much is being done to make Eventing safer.  There has been constructive talk and plans to do more and there have been the haters.  Much of the hateful commentary are from folks who are not keeping close to all that is being done - research on cardio-vascular events, frangible pins, course design.  And, the improvements are there and will continue to improve because we want to do what we can to prevent injury and death.

Yet, sometimes, it just happens.

In no way am I minimizing this life lost so young.  It is heartbreaking.  And in no way am I saying that all is good and doing nothing is the right thing.  What I am saying is that sometimes, it just happens.  Sometimes, you bow your head and you pray for the living and the ones that have to go on.

And sometimes you have to truly be thankful for your own life and know, that today is the day to live life well.  This is your moment for it is all you have... Live it well...

I will donate to her child's college fund and I will match my donation and send it to the USEA's safety and research arm.  And if you feel so inclined, the links are below:

Millie's College Fund

USEA Rules and Safety


eventer79 said...

Well done on being part of the positive & proactive. It is so dearly, painfully true that we have only a few precious minutes...if we're lucky, we might get a couple more. We must love everyone & everything with all our might right now while we can. And keep working hard to improve what we can, where we can. Some of that does include making sure the dialogue doesn't get lost in the noise, but also making sure the dialogue is a productive one. Unfortunately, we can't MAKE all parties engage & it's very difficult when hard work that already exists is ignored, but wherever there are opportunities to keep trying, I hope we can keep channeling energy there. (and sorry for tired, run-on sentences)

APitts said...

Thank you. I've been struggling the last few days to come to grips with my feelings on what happened at JF. Besides the heartache for the rider and her family, I was having a hard time pinning down my feelings. No, this shouldn't have happened, but neither should the car accident that closed our highway for 12 hours last week that resulted in a death. Or the random NASCAR race I happened to leave on the TV for 5 minutes a year ago and witnessed a fatality. I do believe that there should be change. I feel that the upper levels especially are crying out for some changes to be made. More research is needed and some strong actions are called for. I hope that the right moves are made in the right direction sooner rather than later. But in the mean time, thank you for putting into words what I was struggling to define.

Amy said...

Very well said. Thank you. I don't know he sport well enough to have any suggestions as to what to change. I all I know is that there have been way too many fatalities, and for some reason this one hit way too close to home. It seemed to hit others the same way, like the way we all took Olivia's death so hard. Maybe this is the one that really moves the sport closer to where tragic events like this don't seem to be so frequent.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful way of expressing a tragic event. Your words can go across so many life choices and gives hope in the sense of the senseless. Nobody knows what may or may not happen but they continue to enjoy life because it is there. Thank you again!