Deaths Threaten Equestrian Event

12 deaths and Olympian's critical injury causes debate over risks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2008 8:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Twelve deaths and several injuries have spurred debate over the safety of the demanding equestrian sport known as "eventing," the New York Times reports. The sport, considered by many to be the ultimate test of horse and rider, grabbed the spotlight last month when one of the world's finest riders nearly died in a fall.

The equestrian, formerly a likely candidate for this year's US Olympic team, spent a week in a coma and may never ride again. Few safety measures are taken in eventing, which combines a grueling cross-country race with dressage and jumping. Cross-country courses are becoming increasingly dangerous, causing horses to stumble. "The trends are totally unacceptable," the head of the US Eventing Association wrote to members.