Tragic Events at Red Hills Horse Trials

Chiacchia suffered a serious injury at the Red Hills Trials
Olympic rider Darren Chiacchia competing in a previous year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Chiacchia is currently recovering from injuries suffered at the Red Hill Horse Trials.

The Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Fla., was marked by tragedy this weekend. Olympic rider Darren Chiacchia was severely injured when the horse he was riding, Baron Verdi, took a misstep and somersaulted March 15, during the cross-country portion of the three-day eventing competition. The horse was apparently uninjured, but Chiacchia was airlifted to the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. He sustained a severe head injury and contusions to both lungs, with multiple rib fractures and a partially collapsed lung. Initial concerns about spinal injury were alleviated after extensive specialized testing.

According to reports, Chiacchia’s pulmonary function is improving, but the head injury continues to be a major concern. His overall condition shows definite improvement, but he still remained unconscious Monday. Chiacchia’s family and close friends are with him and remain optimistic he will continue a slow, but steady, recovery.

March 18, 2008 – 2PM EDT
After breathing independently for a few hours, Darren had a temporary setback. He developed a fever and pneumonia causing him to be re-intubated and is now breathing with a ventilator. He continues to receive superior medical care and remains in critical but stable condition. The Chiacchia family wishes to extend their appreciation for all the concern and support.


March 20, 2008 – 2PM EDT

Darren is still listed in critical condition, but he remains comfortable and stable. He has squeezed hands upon command at times, and opened his eyes on a few occasions. The medical staff remains optimistic about his recovery. Some of Darren’s favorite music has been playing around the clock at his bedside to soothe his spirit. Let’s all say some extra prayers on Good Friday and throughout this Easter weekend.

Darren Chiacchia and the Equestrian World
Darren Chiacchia remains unconscious in critical condition but is now breathing independently without the assistance of a ventilator, from the USEA. Read more >>

A Message from USEA President Kevin Baumgardner
Eventers everywhere are deeply saddened by the accidents that occurred this past weekend at the Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida, from the USEA. Read more >>

In addition to Chiacchia’s accident, two other tragedies occurred during the Trials on March 15: The horse Missy Miller was riding, Leprechauns Rowdy Boy, took a fatal fall while negotiating a combination jump on course. He died immediately but Miller was uninjured. A necropsy on the horse will be done at the University of Florida and updates will be given as available on the Red Hills Horse Trials website at

Additionally Jonathan Holling’s horse, Direct Merger, collapsed and died on course during the Trials Saturday. According to a statement by Holling, the accident was “in no way related to a jump on course.” Holling extended his thanks to everyone who responded to help his horse and said, “I lost a great partner in Direct Merger today, and he will be greatly missed.”
The Red Hills Horse Trials featured a challenging cross-country course designed by Captain Mark Phillips, Chef d’Equipe and Technical Advisor for the United States Equestrian Team and a former member of the Great Britain Olympic team. For more information on the event, visit


  1. While of course I hope Darren Chiacchia recovers quickly, this occurrence points to some major issues in the 3-day world. Eventing is an extreme challenge of stamina, courage and strength, but with two horses and a rider critically injured at one trial, we need to take a second look at how far the teams can be pushed. We want to challenge our event riders and horses, but at what cost?

  2. i just saw this news at equestriancupid. com/photo/ orange,and this remind me of some happy things, so do not hesitate to join there .let us enjoy ourselves together.

  3. I agree with Sasha – we need to take a long, hard look at what we’re asking event teams to do. Isn’t it ironic, though, that the international eventing organization has just begun to do that, and now we have more serious accidents? I don’t think the discussion about eventing should be over any time soon!

  4. I think it is a very dangerous sport, and it is NOT worth it for your life. I’m an eventer, and I think it is the craziest sport for riders. Cross Country is where it gets dangerous. I think people should think about the jumps for cross country for Rolex, and huge three day events like that.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here