Pakistan’s valiant equestrian Usman survives a life-threatening incident; his horse Kasheer dies in Olympic Qualifier in Australia

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s experienced equestrian Usman Khan has developed critical injuries while his horse Kasheer has died in a serious incident at the FEI Narracorte Horse Trials CIC-4* Olympic Games Qualifiers in Australia on Sunday.

Usman has developed multiple external and internal injuries. After the incident Usman was taken to Narracorte Hospital but the hospital lacked X-Rays machines and scanners. He was then immediately shifted to a 100 kilometre away  Mount Gambier Hospital in South Australia. After administering treatment he was then discharged Sunday evening. His condition is out of danger.

“Usman Khan, the rider, transported to hospital yesterday following the incident at the Naracoorte Horse Trials Event was discharged from hospital last evening,” Equestrian Australia (EA) said. ”The horse Usman was riding called ’Kasheer’ (aka Benny), passed away from a proximal cervical fracture,” EA added.  

After a superb dressage test which put Usman and Kasheer in the third place, the duo did equally well in showjumping with only one rail. This placed Pakistan combination in the second spot before going into the cross country. It was also Pakistan’s highest ever position after two phases at an Olympic Qualifier in the 73 years long history. A few days ago Usman had set a national record at the CIC 4* dressage in Sydney.

Pakistan’s win was within reach as the combination commenced the cross country. A national record was in sight and possibly a new chapter in the international equestrian history was about to be written. Clear round would mean they become the first Pakistani to win Olympic Qualifier, the first ever in the Southern Hemisphere. They would also become the first Asian and Middle Eastern rider to win in Australia. They soared together and cleared all hurdles. The rhythm of the duo was so well that they averaged a pace of 35 kilometre per hour and 570 mps. As the local crowds cheered for the underdog combination they looked far most impressive in 16 years.

A new chapter of Pakistan was about to unfold. The combination, approaching the last fence, seemed promising. They were 50 metres away from the finish line with only one fence to clear, a record in sight, Olympic Qualification at stake, more importantly a dream of a nation they carried together. 

Usman and Kasheer jumped the last fence and cleared it. Kasheer hit his right knee on take-off. There was no FEI safety pin system being used at the Narracorte at CIC4* level. Had there been this system the top rail would have given way. The duo tragically fell metres from the finish line after clearing the last fence. Usman fell so close to the finish line that he wanted to crawl towards it.  Kasheer had a rotational fall and landed on his neck. Within 30 seconds local vet reached. Kasheer sadly died on impact. 

The local crowd said Usman fell head down and Kasheer landed on him. “He was unconscious for two to four minutes. When he regained consciousness the first thing he asked was the welfare of Kasheer,” an eye witness said. 

“Allah is our witness. We tried. We are not afraid of death. I do this for Pakistan and for my people,” Usman said in an interview with English daily The News. “This is unconditional. Kasheer was six figure dollars investment. It’s not about money but have lost another teammate. It’s really sad,” Usman said. 

“I am so sorry that I could not bring joy to Pakistanis. I am sorry and take responsibility,” said Usman, who was not able to talk.

“Kasheer had full faith in me and he cleared the last fence. I feel I let him down. He died saving me, he died for Pakistan. That’s so tragic when unconditional love is given by your partner and he dies,” said Usman. “I am still alive and so is the Olympic dream and it shall be until the last drop,” he said.

“I urge the Pakistan government, please don’t take us for granted. Don’t throw a rule book at us,” Usman said. “We have given blood, sweat, tears and life for the Olympic goal. Why don’t you support us?,” the rider questioned. “Political statements or suggestion to present an award does not comfort us. We have strong case at a medal. This is high time to rethink about our loyalty,” Usman said while feeling great pain. Usman said that he is not in a position to say more following the tragic incident, adding, God will help him as He helped him after Azad Kashmir died last year.