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TV Producer Anticipates (his own) Injury Free Badminton

Somewhere in Melvin Cox’s California home sits a stack of slightly tattered British newspapers. Every now and then he’ll pull the stack out, glance over a particular set of articles, and be reminded of the awesome power of the horse.

Three years ago this week, as the articles reveal, Cox had an unforgettable run-in with such equine might. On a rainy afternoon at the 1999 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, he became seriously injured during the cross-country phase of the event – not unusual for a rider, but Cox, now 50, was recording highlights of the event in the capacity of a videographer and television producer.

Coming out of a lake, Australian Stuart Tinney’s horse, Tex, veered off course, jumped the fence in front of which Cox had been positioned and landed amidst the spectators in a viewing area. Cox, who was knocked backwards over the fence with a video camera on his shoulder, suffered a broken left forearm. A woman spectator was taken to hospital with a broken collarbone. The incident – seen live on closed circuit television by spectators at Badminton and via tape delay on the BBC – was unsettling for everyone including Mr. Tinney who, although swiftly coming to the aid of the injured, was later treated for shock.

The accident, including dramatic photos caught by nearby photographers, became front-page news in Britain the next day.

With overwhelming concern and kindness, event organizers facilitated Cox’s prompt return home to California, where he immediately underwent surgery. Although initial indications pointed to the success of the procedure, it was later discovered that the injury had not properly healed. After ultrasonic bone growth therapy also proved unsuccessful, Cox underwent a second surgery in February of this year, which required a bone graft taken from his hip.

Although such a series of events could easily steer the average person far away from the equine species, quite the contrary has happened to Cox. As the Senior Producer of the television series "With Equestrian Tact: The International Video Magazine of the Equestrian Sports", he is closer to horses than ever, attending national and international events and producing a variety of stories on equestrian topics.

A life long horse lover, Cox maintains cordial relationships via email, fax and Christmas card with many of the "wonderful people" he met as a result of the 1999 incident, including Stuart Tinney. With another mount, Jeepster, Tinney went on to win a gold medal for Australia in the Three Day Event team competition at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. He and Tex hope to compete this September for a World Championship during the World Equestrian Games in Spain.

Cox will return to Badminton this year, his first visit since the accident. Joining him will be a multinational production team that will gather footage and conduct interviews for future documentary presentations. With its colour, pageantry and flare – not to mention the incredible tests of horsemanship – the Badminton Horse Trials encapsulates the ideal ingredients for high quality equestrian programming.

"We would not think of doing this series without a visit to Badminton," says Cox. "There is no question that it is one of the most exciting and prestigious events on the equestrian calendar."

As for being back at Badminton, Cox is ecstatic, and not the least bit worried about his safety. "If the organizers will allow it, I plan to watch at least part of the endurance phase from the same place where the accident happened," he says with a broad grin. "But this time, if a horse is barreling in my direction, I’ll try a lot harder to get out of the way. My 10-year-old daughter, Kimberly, made me promise this before she would ever let me board an airplane headed in the direction of Badminton."

Set against the backdrop of international riding and driving competitions, and incorporating the thematic wealth of classic as well as contemporary jazz recordings, "With Equestrian Tact…" explores a wide variety of equestrian sports topics in a documentary newsmagazine format. The program is produced by SportsQuest International, a privately held multimedia production company based in Oakland, California (USA).

The series will be seen in the United States of America as a HorseTV presentation on the America One Television network, and will be distributed worldwide by London’s Prima Television International.



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