‘Cornerstone of British Dressage’ from Hartfield dies suddenly in America

A 79-year-old woman from Hartfield who was described as a ‘true pioneer and innovator’ in the equestrian world died in America last month, an inquest heard.

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday (January 6), heard Linda Whetstone, the chairperson for British Dressage (BD) who lived in Bassetts Manor, had travelled to Miami-Dade on December 10 and was due to return on December 16.

Mrs Whetstone was in America for an economic conference where she was speaking on a panel, the inquest heard.

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Professor Denis Foretia, who was attending the conference from the University of Tennessee, was having breakfast with Mrs Whetstone on the morning of December 15 when she ‘suddenly slumped forward’.

Linda Whetstone. Photo from British Dressage. SUS-220601-145157001

He said she was unresponsive and had no pulse so he carried out CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Prof Foretia managed to get a pulse to return and Mrs Whetstone was taken to hospital but unfortunately she died due to a ruptured aneurysm which led to a cardiac arrest, the inquest heard.

Mrs Whetstone was involved with the East Grinstead riding club and helped bring European judges to train UK judges at Ardingly, BD confirmed.

A spokesperson for BD said, “Linda’s vision, drive and foresight has without question helped elevate Great Britain, as a nation, to the forefront of the sport.

“BD chairman since 2018 and a List 1 Judge, Linda Whetstone has been a cornerstone of British Dressage since its formation in 1998.”

The spokesperson said she played an ‘instrumental role’ when it came to bringing together different bodies to ‘develop and promote equestrianism’.

The statement said, “A true pioneer and innovator, Linda’s contribution to the sport of dressage in Great Britain is immeasurable and impacts everyone involved today, at all levels.

“Linda was always committed to, and passionate about, making dressage for everyone and accessible to all – and this was fundamental to building and shaping the sport as we know it today.

“She was a force to be reckoned with in her professional life and brought this into her personal passion for dressage.”

Jason Brautigam, BD chief executive said, “We all still feel numb from the news and it will take some time to come to terms with her passing. I will personally feel a huge loss as Linda has been a great supporter and mentor to me during my time with BD.

“Equally, I know that there will be large numbers mourning the loss of such a talisman in our sport, as she touched so many of us, over the past five decades. We will be working on plans to honour Linda and celebrate her achievements which have reached every member of the dressage community.”

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze ruled Mrs Whetstone died due to natural causes.