Eventing rocked by death of sixth rider in a year

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The Independent Online

The world of eventing was mourning another top rider yesterday, adding increased urgency to the need for new safety measures.

Jemima Johnson became the sixth rider to be killed in this country in the past 12 months when her horse came crashing to the ground on top of her at the Wilmslow Horse Trials on Saturday. The 38-year-old was killed only a week after an international safety committee, set up following a spate of deaths in 1999, published its recommendations.

Mike Tucker, chairman of the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA) safety committee, said: "Jemima's death has been devastating, a cruel blow. She was a lovely, lovely sparkly person. I had been laughing and joking with her that day. She enjoyed the sport and has given her life to it."

Her mother Alexandra, 62, a former Olympic skier, described it as a "tragic waste".

Miss Johnson, who had planned to marry in November, had been taking part in the Cheshire trials' advanced section when her 11-year-old mount, On Your Honour, fell on top of her at fence 10, a log pile.

Miss Johnson was one of the most experienced riders on the national circuit and had competed at the top level since 1987. She won the British Novice Championships in 1993, and was third in the British Open at Gatcombe in 1989.

New safety measures such as relaxed time limits and tougher stewardship have been introduced following the other recent deaths. Last week a committee set up by the BHTA and International Equestrian Federation, called for urgent research into collapsible fences.