York & North Yorkshire

Rider's fall death at Beckwithshaw trials 'accidental'

An experienced event rider who died after he broke his neck when his horse refused a fence died accidentally, an inquest has found.

Eye witnesses said Robin Donaldson's fall during the Beckwithshaw Horse Trials in North Yorkshire seemed "innocuous" at first.

Mr Donaldson, from West Yorkshire, was rendered unconscious having suffered a fractured odontoid peg in his neck.

The 64-year-old died more than two weeks after the fall in August 2010.

Retired GP Angela Browning said she watched Mr Donaldson, from Little Ribston, near Wetherby, approach fence 10 of the cross country course "beautifully".

"For some unknown reason the horse decided it wasn't going to go over it," she said.

'Slow motion'

Dr Browning said the horse - Matilda Cruz - put one leg up as if it was going to jump but then just stopped.

Mr Donaldson went over the fence still clutching the horse's bridle.

She told the inquest jury: "We were expecting him just to stand up and get up because it was a slow motion fall - very innocuous."

The retired doctor said medics were at the scene within seconds.

The jury heard evidence from health and safety experts and eventing officials who concluded the course was safe and that Mr Donaldson was a very experienced rider who had competed at the highest level.

Harrogate Borough Council investigated the fall, but the coroner Rob Turnball indicated this had "shown no problems in terms of the organisation of the event itself".

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