Aortic rupture is the most likely cause of death of German Olympic gold medal winning mount King Artus, according to the attending veterinarian. The 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding collapsed at the end of a cross-country course Saturday (May 18) in Weisbaden, Germany.

German rider Dirk Schrade jumped off King Artus shortly after crossing the finish line, as the horse started to stumble and collapse, said Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) veterinarian Gerit Matthesen, DrMedVet. The pair had ridden a clear round in the FEI CIC*** at the Wiesbaden Pfingstturnier event and finished in second place behind Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada of Germany.

“We are all shocked and stunned by the tragic loss of King,” Schrade’s official website stated. “To lose such an extraordinary horse cannot be expressed in words.” The site referred to King’s death as “incomprehensible.”

“The horse performed a quick round in a nice gallop within the time limit,” Mattheson told The Horse on May 21. “He cantered out one and a half rounds in the main arena, went to the trot, wobbled, and fell.”

Matheson rushed to the horse’s aid, the German news source Frankfurter Rundschau reported, but there was nothing he could do. He gave a tentative diagnosis of aortic rupture as cause of death.

“This can happen to any horse in any situation, whether it is in dres