April 28, 2008

Laine Ashker and Frodo Baggins after their dressage test at the Kentucky three-day.

Two horses were euthanised after suffering serious injuries during the cross-country phase of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event at the weekend, and one rider is in a critical but stable condition in intensive care.

The New Zealand bred thoroughbred Frodo Baggins and rider Laine Ashker fell at fence number five. Ashker sustained injuries but was conscious, talking and able to move all extremities when she was transported to the University of Kentucky Hospital. She suffered multiple injuries, including a badly broken jaw, broken ribs and clavicle, and her lungs have collapsed. However, there is no injury to either the brain or spinal cord.

Ashker's mount Frodo Baggins was immediately attended by a team of veterinarians. He was given intravenous fluids and supportive medications for shock and pain. After he was stabilized, he was sedated and transported by horse ambulance to nearby Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, where he was immediately attended by emergency personnel.

Further tests showed that Frodo Baggins had sustained a fracture at the base of his skull, as well as severe lung injury. As the prognosis was very poor, a representative of the family concurred that euthanasia was the most humane option for the horse. A complete necropsy examination will be performed.

Frodo Baggins, a 1996 black gelding, was imported from New Zealand five years ago, having never evented before. Ashker bought him after viewing pictures on the internet. "Although Frodo had never done a stitch of eventing in New Zealand, he was no stranger to success and more importantly, vast audiences," Ashker said recently. "As I soon discovered, Frodo was the main Dark Rider's horse in the first of the blockbusters, The Lord of the Rings. In addition to filming the movie over a course of eight months, he also paraded around New Zealand for fans, met the prime minister of New Zealand, and even walked down the red carpet at the premiere of the film with Elijah Woods.

"Yet, Frodo is a very humble creature and is honoured when people come to his stall and ask for autographs or take pictures with him. Always a gentleman, he is constantly yearning for attention from anyone who will give it, and will try to devour anything that you place near his mouth," Ashker said.

Also during the cross-country phase, Sarah Hansel and The Quiet Man fell. The Quiet Man was immediately transported to nearby Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, where his condition was stabilized. On Sunday morning, an examination by specialists confirmed that he had sustained a severe fracture of the distal scapula and shoulder joint of the right leg.

The Quiet Man and Sarah Hansel fall at fence 13. © Tom Eblen/Lexington Herald-Leader

"After re-examining the horse's injuries, the damage to the gelding's shoulder proved to be more serious than originally thought," said US Eventing Association veterinary delegate Dr Catherine W Kohn, VMD.

"There were several pieces of the fracture and it was determined that the prognosis was poor for athletic performance or comfort and they made the decision for humane euthanasia, which was performed this morning," Dr Kohn said.

"The Quiet Man's loss will be felt by all."

The Quiet Man, a 12-year-old Holsteiner-Irish Sport Horse cross, was owned by Sarah and Parker Hansel of Keene, New Hampshire.