Equestrian mental health pioneer Matthew Wright dies at 38

Matthew Wright and If You Want It won the first round of Express Eventing at Bolesworth in 2011. © Jon Stroud

The co-founder of a resource dedicated to supporting and improving the mental health of horse riders has died at the age of 38.

Eventer Matthew Wright founded Riders Mind in 2019 with his wife, Victoria, and Lucy Katan, CEO of the British Grooms Association and Equestrian Employers Association after he recognised the need for a resource that could offer mental health and well-being support, guidance and information for all riders.

Wright, who was based in Nottinghamshire, has shared his struggles with mental health, and has been a regular blogger about his experiences to raise awareness and understanding.

“Matthew has always been open about his own mental health battles and has worked hard to support others through their own battles through the formation of Riders Minds,” a statement from the organisation said.

Wright represented Great Britain at Junior, Young Rider and Senior level and earned his Senior Team Colours at the age of 23. He would later suffer from depression and also received treatment for cancer. He was within a few fences of winning a five-star event, but three fences from the end of the course, had a crash. That was when he realised he had a problem.

“My mind quite honestly was a mess,” Wright wrote in a blog about depression.

“I had physical and mental health problems and above all I’d lost my love for the sport I once loved so much and in hindsight, loved for all the completely wrong reasons.

“Playing it all back in my head now it seems completely surreal; a lot of what I achieved at the time is a lifelong ambition for a lot of people and I completely took it all for granted at the time.

“When my head was a mess, it was like a black cloak wrapped around me and every thought I had was clouded by a fear of my own past failures. I had no recollection of any of the good things I’d done, past achievements or happy thoughts, only things that were bad,” Wright said.

Dozens of fellow equestrians have paid tribute to Wright on Riders Mind social media.

Wright is survived by his wife, Victoria, and their three children.

Riders Mind is a signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation. It offers a 24-hour helpline (0300 102 1540) offering confidential help on a range of mental health and well-being issues.

Matthew Wright and If You Want It II after winning the first round of Express Eventing at Bolesworth in 2011.
Matthew Wright and If You Want It II after winning the first round of Express Eventing at Bolesworth in 2011. He is pictured with Martin Boden and Diana Barbour of Bolesworth Castle. © Jon Stroud


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