Horse & Hound recently published the findings of an inquest into the rotational fall that resulted in the death of event rider Jordan McDonald at Nunney Horse Trials in 2014. The inquest reported that a “substandard body protector” was worn by Jordan at the time of his fall.
Jordan’s sister, Shannon Maas, has released a statement on behalf of the McDonald family in response to the inquest:
My brother was a smart man and he was not wearing substandard body protection. He was wearing a Tipperary vest, which is a well-known North American brand.
Mr Michael Whitlock is a registered medical practitioner and is deemed an expert in eventing safety equipment. He was the one who examined Jordan’s helmet and vest. The helmet (Charles Owen Skull Cap) performed as expected. With the vest he found that the foam pieces, in their design, were spaced too far apart to be approved by BETA standards.
Mr Whitlock stated, “In my experience working at horse trials, a Class 3 (the BETA requirement) body protector will help reduce the incidents of rib fractures from kicks but not the crush injury.”
In Mr Whitlock’s final summary he said, “It cannot be proven with any certainty that a body protector to the correct standard would have prevented a fatal injury.“
I think it’s important for people to know that Jordan was not wearing a substandard vest. Safety is very important to us and as I said before he was wearing a popular vest worn by many fellow event riders in North America.
My feeling is that the USEA and Equine Canada should follow what BE has done and make the highest standard of body protector a requirement in their rulebook. Then all organizations, including British Eventing, should develop a method to assure that the rider’s body protector meets this standard prior to competition.
I feel that Jordan’s death was a tragic accident as it was deemed by the inquest. There was no information put forward that could, with any certainty, have changed the outcome.
An important takeaway here is that the governing rules surrounding safety equipment varies according to which country a rider is competing in. British Eventing’s rules on body protector vests are as follows:
We continue to send our condolences to Jordan’s family as they continue to deal with unspeakable tragedy. To find out how you can help Jordan’s family, click here.