Rider dies in US cross-country training fall

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A rider has died from injuries sustained during a cross-country schooling day at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia on Tuesday, where a horse trials event had been held at the weekend.

Nicolle Villers-Amatt, 40, suffered a fall while jumping a log fence at the Preliminary level. She received immediate medical attention and was transported to a local hospital. The horse suffered superficial injuries.

Villers-Amatt has been eventing since the 1990s. She competed successfully through the Advanced level and competed the great Theodore O’Connor at the beginning of his career at the Preliminary and CCI* (now CCI2*-L) level.

The open schooling day was taking place from 9am to 4pm, with the cross-country courses set up as they were for the Morven Park Fall Horse Trials, which offered events up to CCI4* (short format). The schooling day was Morven Park’s third and final such event of the season.

Villerse-Amatt lived in Hamilton, Virginia with her husband Neil and two-year-old daughter Zara. She ran Five Point Performance Horses, a business developing young event horses and fox hunters.

Her husband, Neil Amatt, said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that me and my daughter lost my wife and mother yesterday due to a catastrophic riding accident.

“Nicolle died doing what she loved. It was quick and painless, and she was not alone – I thank Katie MacSwain for being with her. She was the best mother and wife any man could ask for.”

He said details of Nicolle’s memorial service would be announced soon.

Four other eventing riders have died in accidents this year, two during competitions, one during a warmup, and another while jumping at home.

(Updated October 10, 9.42pm NZT)

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