Horseball rider, 20, dies following competition fall

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A young British horseball competitor has died after sustaining injuries while competing in a league competition in Warwickshire earlier this month.

Victoria Percy, 20, was riding in a match at the Onley Equestrian Centre in Rugby on April 10, when her horse tripped and she fell off. She was attended to immediately by the on-site medical team until the arrival of the county ambulance, which transferred her to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.

Once in hospital, Percy’s condition stabilised, but then deteriorated rapidly and the difficult decision was made by her family to turn off life support on April 13.

Percy’s horse is under veterinary treatment for a minor trauma injury.

The British Horseball Association, under whose auspices the league weekend was being held, announced Percy’s passing with “the deepest regret”.

“On behalf of the sport of horseball, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Victoria’s family at this sad time. The thoughts and prayers of our community are with them.”

British Equestrian Chairman Malcolm Wharton offered the federation’s condolences to Percy’s family, friends and the entire horseball community.

“I understand she was a determined young lady, a fierce competitor and adored her sport. Her loss will be felt by many, but they’ll be united by the memories she leaves.”

In 2018 Percy, from Southampton, was a member of Great Britain’s horseball squad that competed at the FEI European Championships for Ponies.

A remembrance fund in Victoria’s name is being created by Elizabeth Lingard, which is to be used to celebrate Victoria at future league weekends with kit alterations.

Horseball started in France in the mid-1980s and began in Britain in 1991 after France played its First Division final at the Wembley Horse of the Year Show.

Two teams of six riders must pick up a ball from the ground, without dismounting, and using a game of attack and defence attempt to score goals at each end of the pitch.

The game commences with four players from each team on the pitch. The ball is placed on the ground and has to be picked up in canter. The aim of the game is to win the ball (a small football, fitted with six leather handles); make a minimum of three consecutive passes of the ball (forward as well as backwards, unlike in rugby) between at least three team members, without dropping it, and to shoot it through a hoop 1 metre in diameter and 3.5 metres off the ground.

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