Equestrian body “committed to safety” as eventing deaths inquest concludes

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The image Caitlyn Fischer shared for the #RideforOlivia campaign.
The image Caitlyn Fischer shared for the #RideforOlivia campaign. © Main Event Photography/Caitlyn Fischer

The Coronial Inquest into the deaths of young Australian eventing riders Olivia Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer concluded at the New South Wales Coroner’s Court in Sydney on Friday.

The pair were killed within weeks of each other in early 2016, with their cross-country accidents prompting Equestrian Australia (EA) to introduce new safety measures to the sport.

Olivia Inglis, 17, died on March 6 after a cross-country fall in a two-star event in New South Wales.

Victorian rider Caitlyn Fischer, 19, died as a result of injuries sustained in the one-star event at the Sydney International Horse Trials on April 30.

The inquest started in May and ran for two weeks, before being adjourned until the week starting July 22. The circumstances of both accidents were examined by Deputy state coroner Derek Lee, whose findings will be delivered on October 4.

EA Chief Executive Officer Lucy Warhurst said the inquest into the deaths had been a challenging time but had been “a constructive process”.

“We await the Coroner’s findings and recommendations which we will respond to in full. It is expected the Coroner’s Final Report will be publicly released in the coming months,” Warhurst said.

Olivia Inglis and Coriolanus, the horse she was riding at the NSW Eventing Championship. Coriolanus later died of his injuries. © Allira Fontana Photography/Equestrian NSW

She said EA acknowledged” the strength and courage both families have shown throughout this difficult process. Our organisation shares their determination to make Australia a world leader in equestrian safety and risk management”.

Warhurst said that EA was “committed to learning from the outcomes of the Coronial Inquest to further advance our great sport”.

She said EA would continue to introduce proactive measures to improve the safety in eventing, adding to the initiatives brought in since 2016, including mandated frangible devices in cross-country for 2 star and above; improved safety equipment rules, including tagging of helmets to ensure they meet required standards; and the introduction of the Equiratings system that advises the future risk of a horse fall at a particular level of competition based on past performance of the horse.

A robust national riders representative system had also been implemented with electronic reporting capability, and Serious Incident Management protocols had also been improved.

“We are currently recruiting a full time National Safety Manager. This role will be responsible for the leadership and delivery of appropriate safety and risk management programs,” Warhurst said.

The organisation would also ensure that key stakeholders including state equestrian branches, sports disciplines, organising committees, officials, participants and volunteers in our community were consulted throughout the process.

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