Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When I Have No Words for Once

   I've been struggling with my feelings after the news of two rider deaths and one horse death this weekend.  Maybe it is the fact that one of the lives lost was a young Canadian man, who was following his dreams, dreams I can relate to, dreams that are in line with my own.  Lesley Grant-Law has posted an excellent piece on what has happened - and her thoughts on the problem.  I happen to agree whole heartedly in everything she is saying.  Something has to change - and it won't happen by us shrugging it off as a "risky sport".

 I am going to share Lesley's post below:  from Horse-Canada where Lesley has her own blog column.

June 14, 2014
Today Jordan McDonald died. 
Today Jordan McDonald died after a rotational fall on cross country leaving behind, amongst others, a wife, Shandiss, who had been his sweetheart since the time they were teens.
I met Jordan over 10 years ago in Florida, when he and Shandiss were working students for Peter Gray, where I rented stalls. I would often stop in for a drink or a quick chat with them at the end of the day. Back then, if I had to sum Jordan and Shandiss up it would be that they were pure; straight ‘granola’ if you know what I mean. Two young loves, been together since teenage years, loving the horse life, dreaming large, having fun and working hard.
The years have gone by and just over a year or so ago they went on and finally (lol), got married, had secured very good owners in one particular family and had made a large life decision to move to the UK to get experience riding over there. One couldn’t help but think, fantastic, a win for the little guys. Here you had two kids that grew up, fell in the Disney version of love, found big money supporters and went to follow the yellow brick road off to the UK to get that next life experience. Maybe, just maybe, in these days of millionaire barn brats, high speed dating, fake boobs, fake lives, maybe…. a little bit of pure good, pure romance, Cinderella type stories still exist.
But now this.
I was at a little event today with baby horses and clients when I happened to come across this news. How? Facebook. I read a post from a friend of mine in the UK that said, “Who knows what happened at Nunney today?” and then someone replied “a Canadian boy died.” I got together with my fellow Florida Canadians and we just could not believe it. My body had no idea whether to cry or throw up.
Jordan wasn’t the only casualty of Eventing today. He was joined by a young German lad as well who, thank god, I did not know, but most certainly the sadness is all too real for his family and friends as well.
I have made a life out of this sport we love. I have achieved probably, statistically, well above average success at the sport and naturally my husband is amongst the top 10 per cent in the sport and, of course, was at one point number one in the world, so I think it is obvious that we are true believers and lovers in the sport. But, this is what I am here to say now…
I read reports today from many people that I respect, Authorities in our sport, stating that there is ‘risk’ and has always been ‘risk’ and we do all that we can and blah blah blah. Of course, on the one hand, they are right, but on the other? Although we ‘accept the risk inherent in horses,’ I am pretty darn sure that if someone had walked up to Jordan this morning and asked him if he was willing to never ever see his wife or parents again if he got on that horse today, well I am pretty dam sure he would of said no. Here is the other thing that no one wants to say..
It is not ok. It is sick. It is stomach turning, repulsive, heart breaking and inane. The fact that a luxury, ridiculously expensive, sport ends up in people dying is madness. Perhaps acceptable madness? But madness none the less.
I personally believe that it is a numbers game. I have seen so very many bad rides go without a scrape (some of them mine) and so many good ones end up in injury (some of them mine) that I tend to agree with the belief that no one can make this sport safer than life itself as David O’Conner likes to say, but at the same time, that does not make it anywhere near ok.
I can only begin to imagine the crater of loss that has been left in Shandiss’ and the McDonalds’ hearts. As a wife of an event rider, there have been occasions when I think of how I would cope in the worst case scenerios, and I can honestly say that aside from the fact that I have a son to protect, I cannot imagine how I would wake to take another breath if I lost Leslie in that way. I can promise you one thing, my son will never be encouraged by me to event. If he has the passion we will support it, but believe you me, I will be pushing dressage or show jumping as hard as I can.
I don’t want to sound anti-Eventing; I love Eventing. I think, in a way I pay tribute to Jordan to ask the tough questions that we would all rather avoid. I think I make an interesting point when I say if someone had asked those boys today if they would trade their life for that ride, I believe they would have said no. Of course, they would have said no! I don’t want rid of our sport, I don’t know what the answers are, but I sure hope we keep questioning ourselves and looking for a way to make it safer and don’t just shrug our shoulders at these ‘accidents’.
I am sick of people shrugging it off by stating we ‘accept the risk’. I am here to say I do NOT ‘ACCEPT’ the risk any more than I ‘ACCEPT’ that I may get into a car today and have someone crash into me and kill my son. Do I know things happen? Yes. But it is not ok and I do not ‘accept’ it. We must try and try and search for safer options to the sport we love.
To Shandiss, the McDonalds, and the Winter family. The Event community mourns for you. 

I need some time to reflect on my feelings of eventing right now.  I feel sad, lost, and unsure of whether or not this is the same sport I fell in love with.  I guess only time can show me what is right for me.  Thank you Lesley for sharing your thoughts with us.


  1. I'm sorry :( I really liked what she wrote, and I can't imagine how conflicted you and many eventers must feel right now.

    1. She is a very wise woman...I always love her writings...

  2. How awful. :-( To shrug it off as a risk is disrespectful. EVERYTHING is a risk. You wake up and any thing you do is a risk. A tree falling on your house b/c your house is surrounded by trees is a risk. Driving down the road is a risk. It shouldn't be brushed under a rug saying 'well, that's what you get'. Disrespectful. Sad. My heart aches for the families. My heart aches for you and other eventers as you struggle through......y'all are much closer than those of us on the sidelines.

  3. So sad :( My heart goes out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy.

  4. I'm going through the same thing... do I return to this sport or do I not? I don't know if it will ever be the same for me.

    1. It hasn't been the same for me lately...this isn't helping. I am not someone who wants to ride around the LL forever. I admire those that do but I want to climb up the levels...this may not be the sport for me anymore.

  5. Yeah. I thought that was a well-written and heartfelt article. I can't imagine particularly how married eventers feel: knowing the risks, knowing their partner might not come back. I can't even think of Shandiss without choking up. I saw Jordan ride at Bromont last year. What a horrible, horrible tragedy.

    1. I can not even imagine her life right now - doing this together for all those years. Just horrible.

  6. I had a similar chat with an eventer office friend recently and she had some of the same thoughts as above. My thoughts are with the families of these riders.

  7. I read her statement on EN and agree whole heartedly. It really is not okay and I do hope more changes can be made to keep riders and horses safe. Such a dark weekend. :(


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