TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN—A Florida man is in intensive care this evening following a severe, catatonic episode that occurred while waiting for his wife’s hunter division to begin during Week 1 of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) on Saturday.
George R. Doubleday was attending the horse show this weekend at his wife’s behest and had been at the ring since Karen Doubleday’s GLEF Low Hunter Under Saddle class. In-gate staff say they saw Doubleday speaking cheerfully with his wife’s trainer, munching on a donut, and even snapping a few pictures. As the afternoon wore on, however, they began to notice subtle changes in his behavior.
“There were 76 horses to go in the 2’3” division with two trips a piece, and we left the cards open, and there was a bit of confusion and things were not moving as quickly as we might have hoped,” says June Canfield, an in-gate starter with more than 10 years of experience.
“Mr. Doubleday looked a bit irritated at first, and he kept checking the time on his phone. He stopped clapping for the other riders, and began pacing back and forth along the rail. I had to ask him several times to stop so he didn’t spook the horses.
“By the time 30 or so trips had gone, he was far more subdued, but not necessarily in a good way. He was just sitting there on his own, rocking slightly, and picking at the grass. He was just sitting there picking at the grass…”
Canfield says that it wasn’t until Doubleday deteriorated further, still, muttering, “Line diagonal, line diagonal, line diagonal,” rapidly to himself under his breath that she became seriously concerned.
“At one point, one of the older riders in the class had some trouble, and cantered past the second fence in one of her lines. She became a bit disoriented, and was circling to get back on course, but Mr. Doubleday wasn’t having it. He stood bolt upright under the tent, and started screaming, “YOU’RE OUT! YOU’RE OUT!” and making this violent, sweeping gesture with his hand, like he was the umpire at some baseball game. He seemed very irate.”
By the time Karen Doubleday had finally jumped her first round of the day, her husband George was barely cognizant. GLEF EMT Donna Torrico was first on the scene to attend him.
“It was just so sad. Mrs. Doubleday was walking her horse out of the ring and patting him, and she called out to her husband, ‘George, did you see? We got all of our leads!’ but Mr. Doubleday didn’t even hear her,” Torrico says. “It wasn’t long after that that he slipped into what we later determined to be a completely vegetative state.”
Doubleday was rushed by ambulance to Munson Medical Center, a Level II Trauma Center in downtown Traverse City. At press time, he had yet to regain consciousness. Mrs. Doubleday was unable to comment further on her husband’s condition, but said she was planning to visit him in the hospital just as soon as her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Rolo, was cleaned up and ready to be put away for the evening.
“He was such a superstar today!” Mrs. Doubleday gushed by phone. “I think that second class was the best round we’ve had all summer, and he was jumping so well. I had to make an extra pit stop at Meijer for carrots, so that’s why I’m running a little behind. George will understand!”