A 22-year-old Manorville woman was killed Wednesday while competing in an upstate New York equestrian event.
Rebecca Weissbard was riding in a jumping competition at the HITS-on-the-Hudson equestrian facility in Saugerties when the horse she was on did not clear the second of 10 hurdles, stumbled and fell on top of Weissbard, Saugerties police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Weissbard was an accomplished rider who was well known among equestrians across Long Island and often helped out at her family’s stable, Sundance Stables in Manorville.
“Rebecca rode with passion. She spoke with passion about horses and she competed at the highest level and did it with grace and polish,” her mother, Lynne Weissbard, said, adding that her daughter had won the 1.0-meter class on her horse, Remember Me, earlier that day.
The accident occurred at an elite competition that brings more than 2,000 equestrians to Saugerties every summer to vie for thousands of dollars worth of prize money.
“HITS extends its deepest sympathy to the athlete’s family and to the entire horse sport community who feels the impact of this significant loss,” the organization said in a statement issued Thursday.
On Long Island, Weissbard showed horses at venues such as the Winner’s Circle and Hunter’s Isle Horse Shows in Yaphank.
In 2013, she participated in the Maccabiah Games in Israel, where she won an individual gold medal and helped the United States show-jumping team win silver.
Julianna Schaefer, a friend of Weissbard’s and a fellow rider who also kept her horse at Sundance Stables, said Weissbard was an “inspiration for young riders” in the area.
“Everybody looked up to her,” said Schaefer, 20, of Patchogue. “She was truly amazing. She could ride or fix any horse out there and will be truly missed. ”
Weissbard’s grandmother, Rochelle Weissbard, of Stony Brook, said she’ll remember her only grandchild for her strength and fearlessness.
“She was joyful. She was strong, confident and she was a champion in everything that she did. There was nothing that she feared,” Rochelle Weissbard said. “She’ll always be in our hearts.”
In the hours after Weissbard’s death, friends, family and local equestrians flooded Facebook with remembrances of the young athlete.
One user posted a photo of Weissbard in her riding gear with her father, Eric Weissbard, and the caption: “Beautiful girl, you will always be in our hearts. Ride forever in the heavens.”
On its Facebook page, the Hamptons Classic Horse Show wrote: “The Long Island equestrian community is heartbroken that Becca Weissbard died in a riding accident . . . Our deepest condolences to her parents, Eric and Lynne, her family, and her many friends.”
Funeral services will be held for Weissbard at St. James Funeral Home in St. James this Sunday.