We’re deeply saddened to report the death of British eventer Matthew Wright at the age of 38. His passing was announced in a statement on his official Facebook page today (February 15), which reads: “The horse world is a small and close community and we are aware that people are already starting to hear the sad news about Matthew. It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that this is true. Matthew has always been open with everyone about his own battles with mental health and has worked hard to support others through their own. Please could we ask that you respect the family’s privacy and give us the opportunity to grieve at this difficult time.”
Matthew has worn many hats within the eventing world: as a competitor, he represented Great Britain at the Junior, Young Rider, and Senior levels, taking a Young Rider silver medal in 2002 aboard Park Pilot, who would go on to be his first Senior mount. He was a familiar face at five-star, too, making his level debut at Burghley when he was eighteen and going on to compete at the event a further five times and at Badminton ten times.
In 2012, a testicular cancer diagnosis sent his world into a rapid tailspin, and his arduous fight against – and eventual recovery from – the disease became a beacon of hope for those with similar diagnoses. Following his all-clear, Matthew contested a charity race in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, and also enjoyed sharing his remarkable cooking skills on the programme Come Dine with Me.
Beyond his competitive pursuits, Matthew also took a great interest in sport horse breeding, standing four stallions at Caunton Manor Stud, the Nottinghamshire farm he shared with his wife, Victoria, and their children.
Most recently, he’s become an outspoken figurehead for increased mental health awareness in the equestrian world, documenting his own ups and downs with a remarkable frankness that has seen many riders follow suit.
And so, in the wake of Matthew’s tragic passing, it’s important that we continue to speak openly about mental health – a cause he championed wholeheartedly. His Riders Minds was established as a support system for anyone in the equestrian world who is feeling the struggle of a heavy emotional burden, and provides different levels of care – from self-care tips to 24/7 free hotlines – to anyone who needs help. Helmed by professionals and designed to accommodate the unique nuances of life with horses, it’s an excellent resource to keep bookmarked, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need it.
Though mental health awareness has come a long way over the last few years, helped enormously by efforts such as Matthew’s, it’s an unavoidable fact that the equestrian world glamourises and promotes ‘toughness’ and fortitude above almost all things. But just as ignoring a physical injury and climbing aboard your horse with gritted teeth can lead to long term complications, quashing emotions in fear of looking weak isn’t a functional long-term strategy. Whether you turn to a friend, family member, barn owner or trainer, online forum, or one of the many incredible round-the-clock support groups and hotlines available, speaking up about feeling down is one of the smartest and bravest things you’ll ever do – and you don’t have to wait until you feel as though you’ve hit rock bottom.
All of us at Team EN send our deepest sympathies to Matthew’s family, friends, and connections.
Riders Minds: 0300 102 1540/ridersminds.org (24/7)
Samaritans: 116 123/[email protected] (24/7)
MIND: 0300 123 3393 to call, or text 86463 (9.00–18.00 Monday to Friday, except bank holidays)
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (16.30–10.30 daily)
Papyrus HOPELINE (for un
der 35s): 0800 068 4141/[email protected] (10.00–22.00 weekdays; 14.00–22.00 weekends)
The Mix (for under 25s): 0808 808 4994 (14.00 – 23.00, Sunday – Friday)
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM – for those identifying as male): 0800 585 858 (17.00–00.00 daily)
Switchboard (for LGBTQ+ callers): 0300 330 0630/[email protected] (10.00–22.00 daily)
C.A.L.L. (for callers in Wales): 0800 132 737 (24/7)
SHOUT crisis line: text SHOUT to 85258
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be directed to a crisis centre closest to you
National Hopeline: Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) to speak to a crisis counsellor
The Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ youth): 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counsellor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 pm to 12 am ET)
Kids Help Phone (for 5–29 year olds): 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868
Hope for Wellness help line (for indigenous people in need of crisis support): 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or connect to the online Hope for Wellness chat
Transgender Crisis Line: 1-877-330-6366
Military Mental Health hotline: 1-800-268-7708