Olivia Inglis on Vinchenzo.
Olivia Inglis on Vinchenzo.

‘Not again’: Equestrian judge’s first thought after death

A JUMP judge who saw a young competitor killed by her horse when it missed a fence and rolled has told an inquest one of her first thoughts was "not again".

Volunteer jump judge Sarah Retallack was giving evidence on Tuesday at an inquest into the deaths of two teenage equestrian riders who were crushed when their horses rolled on them after failing to clear jump barriers at cross country events.

Olivia Inglis, 17, died while competing at the cross country event in Scone horse trials at "Broomfield" in Gundy on March 6, 2016.

Caitlyn Fischer, 19, died seven weeks later at the Sydney International Horse.

Ms Retallack was the jump judge at fence two when Caitlyn was competing in the one-star eventing cross country course on April 30, 2016.

She told the inquest she saw Caitlyn and her 16.2 hand horse, Ralphie, approaching the jump "perfectly", but at the last moment the animal's chest hit the barrier and the horse went into a rotational fall. Caitlyn sustained devastating head injuries in the fall.

A young Olivia Inglis in action. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
A young Olivia Inglis in action. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Ms Retallack told the court she immediately used her radio to call for an ambulance saying, "paramedics urgent on jump two".

She said when she heard no reply she called again and waved to the ambulance, which she could see on a nearby hill.

Caitlyn Fischer with her horse Ralphie.
Caitlyn Fischer with her horse Ralphie.

Ms Retallack, who had no first-aid training, said although she was 5m away from the jump she did not approach Caitlyn.

"I couldn't believe that it had happened again," Ms Retallack said.

"I think I thought I was inadequate to help."

The first person to come to Caitlyn's aid was her mother, Ailsa Carr, who ran 50m to 70m to reach her daughter.

Caitlyn Fischer riding Ralphie in February 2016.
Caitlyn Fischer riding Ralphie in February 2016.

She realised immediately her daughter was dead and rang her husband, Mark Fischer, an intensive care paramedic, to break the terrible news.

The inquest had previously heard Ms Carr said, "she's dead, she's dead, my girl's gone".

Ms Retallack said everyone in the sport had still been shaken by the death of Olivia Inglis seven weeks earlier.

Olivia, who had been riding since the age of four, was one of the youngest members of the NSW eventing squad.

She died when her horse, a 16-hand thoroughbred gelding called Coriolanus, missed its stride on a combination jump and had a rotational fall that crushed Olivia's chest.

The first person to arrive on the scene was a paramedic, who observed that Olivia was unconscious but breathing.

Olivia Inglis  died of crush injuries to her chest.
Olivia Inglis died of crush injuries to her chest.

A helicopter was called to fly her to hospital but Olivia died of crush injuries to her chest before the medical team could take her. Coriolanus broke his neck in the fall and had to be euthanised.

The inquest had previously heard that before Olivia competed that day her mother and coach, Charlotte Inglis, was concerned about jump 8A and 8B and had discussed it with another rider.

Counsel assisting the Coroner Dr Peggy Dwyer told the inquest that, "the common thread," between Caitlyn and Olivia was that they were, "young women with enormous potential … who knows what potential both of them had in eventing but it may have taken both of them right to the top of the sport".

Caitlyn Fischer had
Caitlyn Fischer had "enormous potential". Picture: Facebook

Dr Dwyer said the inquest would look at several issues of concern including whether, "the physical aspect of the courses … contributed to the deaths of Olivia and Caitlyn".

She said that since Olivia and Caitlyn's death there had been significant changes to NSW equestrian events including the purchase of "collapsible technology" for fences to reduce the risk of rotational falls.

The inquest before Magistrate Derek Lee is set down for two weeks.