Remembering Jo Rugman the Woman Crushed by Her Horse

  November 27, 2021   News ID 5088
Remembering Jo Rugman the Woman Crushed by Her Horse
Focused and determined, she sails over the fence on the cross-country course. But Jo Rugman was just seconds from tragedy when this picture was taken.

The mother-of-two fell from her horse at the next fence and was killed as her husband and young daughter stood yards away.

Mrs Rugman, 37, is thought to have been crushed by the horse after the animal clipped the top of the fence and fell on her.

Her death is the first fatality of a rider in the sport of team chasing since its inception in 1974.

Mrs Rugman, an experienced rider who was secretary of the Warwickshire Hunt, was following her three team-mates over a tyre fence at the course on a farm outside Cirencester, Gloucestershire, when her gelding, Fitzwilliam Square, stumbled.

The horse was unhurt, but the seriously injured Mrs Rugman was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

The photograph was given to the Daily Mail with the blessing of her husband John, 40, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers who heads the professional services firm’s regional valuations practice.

He was at the event with their seven-year-old daughter Isabel. The couple’s son Harry, nine, was not there. Mr Rugman was yesterday being comforted by relatives at the family’s £700,000 farmhouse outside Banbury, Oxfordshire.

He said their children were both ‘keen riders’ and added: ‘Jo was a wonderful wife and mother, and an inspiration to her family. She was a gifted horsewoman operating at the top of her game, who will be sorely missed by everyone.’

Mr Rugman said his wife had ‘really connected with a great many people, and it is their support now which is giving me such strength’. In team chasing the teams set off at intervals and race against the clock, the time of the third member of each team being taken as the time of the team.

Many teams use four riders and horses so they can still compete if one horse falls or refuses a fence.

Mrs Rugman’s team, A Class Act, was the second of around 15 teams set to negotiate the course. The event on Sunday, organised by the Vale of White Horse Hunt, was abandoned after the tragedy.

Yesterday team member Jessica Lewis said Mr Rugman had persuaded the team to keep competing in his wife’s honour.

Miss Lewis, speaking on behalf of team-mates Andrew Shipley and Charlotte Alexander, said: ‘Jo was a beautiful and brave rider, and fiercely competitive. She was always smiling and was a true team player.

‘The team will never be the same without her, but in our hearts we know she will always be with us.’

Sam Butler, joint master of the Warwickshire Hunt, said Mrs Rugman was ‘as good on a horse as anyone I know in Warwickshire’.

Sunday’s event was a qualifier for the national championships and attracted competitors from across the country.

Minutes before the tragedy involving Mrs Rugman, a horse snapped a leg bone while galloping between fences and had to be put down.