[RC] [Guest] River Run tragedy - Ridecamp Moderator
Megan Davis FarFast@xxxxxxx
Before Saturday was done there were so many rumors circulating around camp
about what happened at River Run with regard to the horse that was
euthanized that I thought it best to have the story from the horse's mouth,
so here goes:
There were 2 juniors, Dustin and Sandra, riding with a sponsor, Lynn, who
is Dustin's grandmother, and 2 other riders namely me and Sevi Martinez all
running together in the front of the pack. We were on the last 10 mile
segment heading for home and were about 3 miles from the previous vet
check. We came fast through an open field, slowed through some woods, fast
along another open section and then had to guide our horses through a tight
S-bend, left then right around a large oak tree then left down a steep but
short slope, into a ditch and sharp left onto a packed dirt road.
As we headed into that section of trail, I was in front and Dustin was
immediately behind me. I do not know the order of the other 3 horses. As
I headed around the oak tree I put my hand up in the traditional "caution,
I'm slowing" signal and pulled my horse to a very slow trot. As I went
down the steep slope Dustin's horse was very close to me and I heard a
sickening cracking sound. I turned in the saddle to see Dustin's horse
pulling back and holding up a broken right front leg. I could see the
opening through the skin and between that and the angle of the leg knew
that the horse had suffered a severe fracture, probably in multiple places.
At the time we had no clue what had happened and did what we could with
regard to horse, rider, tack etc and I won't bore you with those details.
At the time I could only assume that as Dustin's horse had come up very
rapidly against the rear end of mine that he had kicked out and hit
Dustin's horse. I was confused as I had not felt any movement that would
indicate that he had kicked out, he was in such a precarious position I
couldn't see how he could kick, and knew that for over 2000 endurance
miles, including sponsoring juniors, coming first, coming last, etc, my
horse has not even attempted to kick another horse. In fact, when I ride
with people who are concerned about stopping their horses I tell them just
to steer them into the back of Sanyati because that will stop their
horse. I have never had a minute of concern that he would kick them.
As I say, I only assumed that was what had happened and felt sick and
saddened about it. I could not get angry at my horse because if he had
kicked it would only be instinct from something rushing up to him from behind.
I had a cell phone with me but could not get any service. Sevi Martinez
then rode back to the previous check to get the Vets to come to the
scene. In doing so he clearly sacrificed his First place position (because
he was riding the most spectacular horse and I have little doubt he would
have won if there had been a race at the finish) to help out a horse and
rider in need. In the meantime I wandered around the corn field until
finally I got a faint signal and was able to contact the ride manager and
get the Vets to the scene.
Once they arrived and I realized there was nothing more I could do, I took
Sandra (the other junior) and headed for home. Some other riders had
caught up to us (we had had a good 20 to 30 minute lead on them prior to
that) so we rode with them. I then suggested to Sandra that as our horses
were fresh from their 20 or more minute rest that we should try to win the
ride - to honor Dustin. My thought was that even though he couldn't finish
the ride, we were taking his spirit with us on the way! She said she would
like to do that and off we went. The end was a mad race but I was first
senior and Sandra was first Junior.
The victory was hollow and both Sandra and I still fell ill about the whole
Sevi came in in 9th place, despite his extra 6 miles and many minutes of
waiting around and so on.
The interesting thing was what he told Pam later - he had actually watched
Dustin's horse get it's foot caught in a root on the way down the slope and
my horse, Sanyati, had not kicked the horse at all. Sevi was a jockey and
says he has seen those injuries on the track and he knew what happened the
minute he saw the hoof in the hole and heard the crack.
So that's what happened. No more rumors please.
There are many lessons to be learnt from this event. The first and
foremost is that there were a number of factors that contributed to the
event but there is no blame to be placed on anyone, least of all the horses.
I will have one new habit from now on and that is to be very forceful in
telling people to keep off my horse's rear end and I will do my best to
keep my horse off the other horses out there. Not for the kicking issue
alone, but because if their nose is on another horse's butt they cannot
possibly see where their feet are!
Ride management awarded Dustin the Shelby Cook perpetual trophy which is
given to someone who epitomises the spirit of endurance.
So, in parting, I can only say I feel deeply sad for Dustin for loosing the
horse he was riding and obviously loved and a very heartfelt sadness and
sympathy for Lynn who lost her very dear and obviously wonderful first
horse, experienced such a sorrowful day for her grandson, and had to make
what is surely the most difficult decision a person has to make for the
animal they love.
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