Equestrian star killed after horse falls on him

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A Northern Ireland event rider has been killed after his horse landed on top of him in a horrific fall while competing in England.

Ian Olding, originally from Carrickfergus, died while taking part in an advanced section of the Belton Horse Trials in Lincolnshire, England.

The 47-year-old was killed during the cross-country phase of the National Advanced class when his horse, the 12-year-old Gran Kiki, fell on top of him at the 13th fence on the track.

A full-time professional eventer, the rider lived much of his life in Carrickfergus and moved to England 12 years ago, where he was based at Somerton Park Farm in Condelton, Cheshire.

It is understood that his parents and brother Gary still live in the Carrickfergus area and have been informed of the tragedy.

Mr Olding was a vastly experienced competitor and had ridden Gran Kiki up to 3-Star International level during their six-year partnership. They completed the tough international three-day-event at Boekolo in Holland last October and their last international outing was at Burnham-Market in Britain a few weeks ago.

Templepatrick eventer Rachelle Harding has known Mr Olding since she was a young teenager as they grew up in the same area.

She said she was devastated to hear of the death of a “good friend and a real, real character”.

“I was speaking to him not that long ago. It was a complete shock when word came through from a friend that he had been killed. I was always delighted to see him pulling up at events because he was a real comedian, the joker who kept everyone going.

Mr Olding is the third rider from Ireland to die in a year. Karen Rodgers, a 41-year-old TV producer, took a fatal fall while competing at Ballindenisk in Cork in April 2008 and last August 45-year-old Stephen Moore died suddenly just weeks after suffering what appeared to be relatively minor injuries at an event in Antrim.

Stephen was twin-brother of Sam Moore, who was killed in a fall at Blenheim Castle in 1997.

In 1998, popular Irish international Capt David Foster died at an event near his Co Meath home and in 2006 the sport was severely shaken by the loss of 28 year-old Portadown talent, Sherelle Duke.

Ms Harding (39) said her friend’s death had brought back bad memories of other riding tragedies.

“It doesn’t seem that long since we had to cope with the deaths of Sherelle Duke and Stephen Moore. Losing another friend is very hard to swallow.

“Riding is our adrenaline. Ian went doing what he loved. When you hear of deaths you just keep on doing it because it’s our way of life.

“Ian was very much a part of the riding community in Northern Ireland and his death is a very big loss. It’s such a shock.”

An investigation has been launched into Mr Olding’s death, which led to a two hour delay in the competition. It resumed after two fences were removed from the course.

Ten years ago, the sport went through a horrific phase when five riders died within four months of each other at British fixtures, leading to a major overhaul of the sport.

The majority of eventing fatalities result from what are known as “rotational” falls, where the horse hits a solid fence, catapults the rider onto the landing side and then falls on top of them, and significant changes have been |introduced to address the issue.

These have included the use of “frangible pins” designed to collapse the fence when hit with force, and the controversial |removal of the roads-and-tracks and steeplechase phases of the three-day-event.

A total of 15 deaths were recorded internationally in the two-year period between August 2006 and August 2008 and British Eventing has been at the forefront of the drive to improve safety.

This story was sourced from The Belfast Telegraph.