Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fair warning: A Kingpin video and final thoughts on Rolex

This is an "extra" posting (second this evening) and what is likely to be my closing Rolex post.

Warning! READ BELOW before you watch the video...

Tonight I searched Youtube for Rolex 2009 footage, since the cross country phase is a different experience depending on where you stand. I came upon a video from equestrianmom3 that includes footage of Kingpin at fence 10 -- from some distance, and partially obscured. When I heard of the tragedy of Kingpin and Mike Winters, I tried to imagine what happened, and how. I'm the type of person that wants to analyze what occurred. At any rate, this video has answered some of my questions about what happened.

A brief description of the footage...
The video below is not particularly graphic or close up. There is enough distance from the subject that it's possible to watch it, but it's close enough to be somewhat informative. You get a glimpse of what is happening during the approach. Kingpin looks labored, slipping sideways, and out of balance on this downhill approach. MW is struggling, trying to keep his head up, to pull him up or balance him, or some combination of these things. He is sitting far back, hands up, and there is obviously something wrong 7-8 strides out. My personal sense is that had they not been on a downhill slope MW might have been able to avoid jumping, but he could not control the momentum. An eventer might be able to better interpret his position/aids, but he is clearly trying hard to fix whatever is happening. Right before the fence he appears to use his stick, but it is only after the point of no return, when Kingpin is gathering himself up to leave the ground. Kingpin does jump the fence, and he lands on his front feet before falling down. The fall itself is largely obscured. The video should dispel any claims that the fence, or the fall alone, caused the injury. Whether you choose to watch it or to avoid it, it starts at 10 seconds and ends at about 17 seconds.

This is one of the times it is good to have a low visibility blog with a readership that will hopefully understand the intent of my posting a link to this footage from equestrianmom3. Personally I'm glad it's out there. Being a video, un-enhanced or embellished, it is what truly happened on Saturday, and it's a part of the sport.


  1. It seems very similar to what happened to Tigger Too at the Jersey Fresh last year -- I was unfortunate enough to be in the center of the water complex, with a direct view of Lauren and Tigger as they jumped what would be their final fence.

    And yeah, it just looked like they came in a little awkwardly to the fence, although he was a little more sluggish, but he tried to jump and ended up just sort of slithering over, falling to his side and almost landing on Lauren. They eventually figured he had a heart attack/aneurysm on the approach, but between adrenaline and momentum he keep going. It was heartbreaking.

  2. Thank you for posting that video. It is very sad that the fall happened, however, it is a learning experience. It looks like they were coming back from a good pace and then the engine cut-out, if you will. On XC, both riders and horses are caught up in the momentum of the phase, so it's understandable why he was still in the "WTH?" stage coming to the fence.

    How unfortunate that it happened in competition and now everyone is shaking their fingers at eventing like it was the sports fault. I have seen a pony being lunged that succumbed to the same type thing. It looked like the pony had suddenly gotten extremely fatigued, and then simply couldn't keep her feet under her and then collapsed.

  3. Very sad - these horse are great athletes and give their all for us.

  4. After watching it and seeing what happened mho is that Mike knew something was up and it looks to me like he was pushing for more and Kingpin didn't have it. I don't think he had any intention of trying to stop Kingpin but he was pushing. Thanks for posting and it helps me to understand. I hope this will help people realize that reading their horse is very important.

  5. Thank you so much for posting that video.
    I really hope people don't start pointing fingers at eventing again. It clearly wasn't a fence mishap or caused by the sport itself. The horse had a health issue, nothing to do with the XC course, but I doubt people will see it that way.
    It's so sad that this had to happen, and I know the whole equestrian community, eventers or not, are thinking of Mike Winters and everyone associated with him.

  6. I've said it many times before, and this I say it with tears in my eyes: It never ceases to amaze me what horses will do for us, even when they are dying.

  7. Very sad day for eventers, and Canadians. RIP King Pin.

  8. I saw it online when it was happening and then they cut out to a picture of a building so you didnt really know what happened...but my impression without knowing till later that the horse fell and died was that he was pushing the horse for more b/c he was starting to lose pace and come off the aides and I really dont think he probably realized what was going on...but then really who would think 'hey my horse is going to blow an aneurysm, I better pull up'...

  9. I agree, it looks like the horse started to slow down before the jump and he legged him on. My young horse has done almost exactly the same movements before fences before (from spookingor being upset with the look of a jump) and has slowed like that. The normal response is to leg them on.I don't know if I would have known something was wrong either. It's very sad this happened,I feel for his rider, trainer, and everyone involved with him.


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