Katharine Morel: Equestrian Rider Dies at Florida Competition

Katharine Morel and Kerry On

Facebook Katharine Morel and her horse Kerry On

An equestrian rider from Canada and her horse are both dead after a fall on Saturday at a Altoona, Florida competition. Katharine Morel and her thoroughbred mare, Kerry On, both died soon after their fall.

According to a news release from James Hood, the high-performance director at Equestrian Canada (EC), the 33-year-old rider and her 8-year-old horse were on the intermediate cross-country course at Rocking Horse Winter III Horse Trials and suffered a “rotational fall” at fence eight. Morel was transported to Waterman Hospital in Tavares, Fla., where she died from her injuries suffered. Her horse Kerry On suffered fatal injuries from the fall as well and died shortly after it happened.

Katharine Morel and Her Horse Kerry On

YouTubeKatharine Morel and her horse Kerry On from a YouTube video from a long cross country event in July 2019.

Hood said: “The equestrian industry lost not just an exceptional athlete, but an exceptional person, as well as the horse she loved. On behalf of EC, I extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of Katharine, as well as to the entire team who surrounded Kerry On.”

Spokesperson Natasha Nystrom of Global Affairs Canada told Heavy that “We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Canadian citizen who died in the United States. Consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to the relatives of the deceased.” The statement ended with a note that the Privacy Act prevents the department from sharing any additional information.


The Circumstances of Morel’s Fatal Fall Remain Unclear

The circumstances of the fall are unclear, only that it was a rotational fall at fence 8 on the course. According to EC’s statement, “EC will work closely in cooperation with our sister federation, US Equestrian, to investigate the fall and continue developing methods to improve safety for riders and horses alike.”

A rotational fall happens during a jump when a horse hits a solid fence with either its chest or upper forelegs and falls in a way that it lands on its back. These are a known risk in the sport so horses will usually have a type of grease on their forelegs to help them slide over a fence. Rotational falls have resulted in the past in serious injuries and fatalities in equestrian cross-country competition.


Morel Was From Ontario, Canada & Had Been Riding Since She Was 3 Years Old

Katharine Morel

Katharine Morel in a Facebook photo.

Morel said in a 2018 interview with Sherwood Park News that she was born and raised in a small town called Cochrane in Ontario. She said she had been riding since the age of 3 but that she had to sell her horses. In 2013, she moved to Sherwood Park, Alberta and took up riding again with the help of her trainer, Tricia Dahms.

She said, “I came upon a three-year-old thoroughbred mare named Kerry On. She was a horse who wasn’t racing well,” she explained. “She just wasn’t a runner,” Morel said but she took an immediate liking to her. She said she decided to take a chance on Kerry On, but after a few years of training she “turned out to be phenomenal.” They started competing in the Florida winter circuit and she became the top Canadian rider with Kerry On the top Canadian horse for their division on the tour.

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