Monday, June 11, 2001

Young rider mourned at Ky. Horse Park

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Riders at the Kentucky Horse Park took time for a silent tribute Saturday to a rider who died after her horse fell on her.

        Alexandra Fowler, 12, of Akron, Ohio, died Friday after a fall while competing in the Lexington Summer Hunter/Jumper “Country Heir” Show.

        “It's just a sad day,” said show coordinator Frankie Stark, her eyes brimming with tears.

        About 9 a.m. Saturday, the contingent from Alexandra's barn, Ridgewood Stables in Medina, Ohio, joined mournful fellow riders at the ring where Alexandra had fallen the day before, Ms. Stark said. Many of them were Alexandra's age and the day before had been riding against her in friendly competition.

        “It was a very tight-knit group,” said Hugh Kincannon, who runs Ridgewood. “They'd been having a wonderful time.”

        Alexandra had been riding and competing for at least three years, Mr. Kincannon said.

        “She was a talented little rider,” he said. “She was a little wisp of a thing.”

        About 1:30 p.m. Friday, as her mother, Sarah, looked on, Alexandra lined up to take a 3-foot vertical fence, a jump she and her bay thoroughbred mare, Cricket, had cleared before.

        “Her horse came into the jump and instead of jumping over, she put her feet through, tripped and flipped over,” Ms. Stark said. “We knew it was bad because (the horse) hit her so hard.”

        Alexandra and the mare landed on their backs, with the girl underneath, said Chris Payne, 33, of Cincinnati, who witnessed the fall from an adjacent ring. After what seemed like forever, he said, the 17-year-old mare scrambled up, uninjured.

        The girl's mother, officials and an emergency medical technician rushed to her. Within 17 minutes, an emergency-response team arrived; three minutes later, an ambulance arrived and she was on her way to the trauma center at University of Kentucky hospital. At 5:40 p.m., she was pronounced dead.

        Her father, David Fowler, said the family knew the sport's risk. “It was just an accident,” he said. “That's part of the deal... but you take a risk to do it.”

        One other rider has been killed at the Kentucky Horse Park. In 1983, Mary Beebe, 22, died when her horse, I, Claudius, threw Ms. Beebe over a cross-country jump and then landed on her.

        “Serious injuries don't happen here very often,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the horse park. “Everybody's gone over it and over it, and it doesn't seem to be anything other than a horse-and-rider accident.”

        Ms. Stark said officials rechecked that the fence's height and distance from other jumps were correct. “Everything was textbook,” she said.


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