Another top event rider killed

Mark Myers, a father of two and one of Australia's leading cross-country riders, died today when his horse fell on him during a competition in Brisbane, Australia.

Myers' death at the Fig Tree Pocket cross country event in southern Queensland state comes just weeks before an interim safety report on eventing is due to be handed to the sport's international governing body.

Myers, in his early 30s, died before reaching hospital, a police spokeswoman said. His horse was not injured.

Although Myers was not in the running for selection for this year's Olympic Games, he was one of Australia's leading cross-country eventers and a future Olympic prospect, Australian equestrian officials said.

Myers was the first competitor on the course this morning when his horse hesitated at a bounce jump - where a horse lands and then has to jump over a second fence immediately without taking a stride.

An Equestrian Federation of Australia spokeswoman said the horse jumped long over the first obstacle, hitting the second part of the jump and then somersaulted on top of Myers.

His death follows a number of fatalities in the sport in Britain and Australia over the past two years, including leading Australian riders Robert Slade and Anna Savage.

Olympic equestrian team manager Gareth McKeen said despite the dangerous nature of the event, fatalities were unacceptable and the incident would be fully investigated.

"Any time anyone is hurt or fatally injured it is not acceptable, we don't say it is just part of the sport - it is not acceptable to us and we want to make sure the sport is as safe as it can be," McKeen said.

"Because there have been several deaths the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) has instigated a major safety review ... there are a lot of issues including grading of the horses, the fences and distance between the fences."

Myers, a veteran of cross-country courses, had ridden the Fig Tree course several times and the horse he was riding Sunday was experienced, McKeen said.

McKeen said Myers played a major role in the administration of the sport in Queensland state, including organizing elite training clinics.

"He loved the sport, he was honest and hard working and always had a smile on his face," McKeen said.

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