Rider hurt during opening ceremony still in hospital

October 1, 2010

The rider injured at the World Equestrian Games opening ceremony in a fall sparked by a medical problem is still in a critical condition and has undergone surgery.


Eitan Beth-Halachmy


Santa Fe Renegade and Eitan performing in "Fantasia" at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts in 2006.

Eitan Beth-Halachmy is in the University of Kentucky hospital, where he has undergone two surgical procedures in two days.

Beth-Halachmy, a world-renowned exponent of cowboy dressage, performed at the WEG opening ceremony, in what his daughter described as the highlight of his career.

However, as Beth-Halachmy was leaving the outdoor arena on his Morgan horse, Santa Fe Renegade, he suffered a heart problem. He lost consciousness and slumped from his mount, falling into a jump pole and rupturing his spleen.

Family spokesperson Bonnie Glasgow, who works for the rider and his wife, Debbie, said Beth-Halachmy is still in a critical but stable condition.

He is still on a ventilator, and he was to have surgery today to have a defibrillator put in.

He also has multiple broken ribs and broken sternum, "due to the aggressive CPR", Glasgow said, and this was likely to slow his recovery.

Glasgow said doctors do not believe Beth-Halachmy had a heart attack. However, he has a history of atrial fibrillation (an irregular or abnormal heartbeat), which has been managed through medication. He also had multiple bypass surgery 14 years ago.

"He is on various medications to treat the condition. Some of those medications can have side effects. The blood thinner that he is on can be dangerous when there is an injury," Glasgow said.

"At the end of the opening ceremonies Eitan went into ventricle fibrillation. This is, in effect, instant death. The heart stops beating. My understanding is that there is only a 10% chance of survival from an episode of this. Eitan was fortunate to have competent help within feet of him as he collapsed," Glasgow said.

Retired emergency room trauma doctor Michael Rieser was nearby in the grandstand, and rushed in to help. "We all owe a thank you to Dr Rieser and the other emergency personnel who were at the games to give quality and swift care to Eitan. He has received excellent care since being admitted to the University of Kentucky Hospital and has been seen by over 24 doctors so far," Glasgow said.

Beth-Halachmy, who is from Grass Valley, California, had been scheduled to teach and perform further at the games. He also performed at the 2006 World Games opening ceremony in Aachen.