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Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: Mare’s jitters injure top rider

Well-known Grand Prix rider McLain Ward was injured in a riding accident during the Jan. 14 $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix in Wellington, Fla.

Ward was riding Oh d’Eole, a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare. She had won the class on the previous day; however, on this evening she apparently was not happy with the night lights.

Galloping into the combination, she overreacted and jumped Part A of the combination extremely high. Ward tried to pull the mare out in the middle of the one stride, but she kept going and hurdled the second jump in the combination.

Unfortunately, when Ward tried to pull her out of the combination, it put the horse too far to the side, which resulted in Ward slamming his knee into the standard of the jump. His knee hit the vertical metal strip that secures the breakaway cup.

The impact of his knee hitting the standard unbalance both horse and rider, and the horse fell to her knees upon landing. Ward fell to the ground beside the mare. After being helped off the course and taken to Wellington Region Medical Center, it was determined that he had shattered his kneecap into 22 pieces.

Surgery was performed by Dr. Craig Ferrel, the U.S. Olympic team physician in 2004–05, who removed all but four pieces of bone, which were screwed together.

Ward will be on crutches for eight weeks and is expected to fully return to riding in about 22 weeks. This is Ward’s first major riding injury in his long career.

Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.

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