American Grand Prix Rider and Entrepreneur Mark Carter Dies in Helicopter Crash

Mon, 04/10/2023 - 19:56
Mark Carter :: Photos © Terri Miller

American international Grand Prix rider and entrepreneur Mark Carter tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash oN 24 March 2023.

A Bell 407 helicopter crashed on a hillside in Nuevo, California, killing Mark Carter, 61, and Dennis Foster, 62, both residents of Murietta, CA.

CBS LA reported that "the crash happened around 12:40 p.m. Friday, with the "aircraft emergency" call going out roughly 10 miles northwest of Hemet-Ryan Airport, at the base of hills in Lakeview, neighboring Perris and Hemet."

Carter was a skilled pilot with  25 years of flight experience. He regularly flew the same French Valley to Big Bear route. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Dressage Rider

Carter was also an international Grand Prix dressage rider and a close friend of U.S. Olympian Steffen Peters as well as David Wightman and Kathleen Raine. 

His most well known competition horses were Nirvano, Diabolo and Bellino, but a string of horses paved the way for his international show debut.

His first competition was ridden in 1997 though on Khartoum's Avalon (by Faust II) and Wellspoken. In 1998 he competed nationally with Daegen (by Zooloog) and Esbjerg (by Espri), in 1999 it was the turn of Darkman, Casanova, and Day Dream.

Mark Carter and Bellino in 2015
Carter's name started the ring a bell in Europe when he bought Johan Rockx' top Grand Prix horse, Dakota (by Wagenaar x Pandoer), in 1999, and became a guest at the Hanoverian auctions in Verden. Mark and his wife Kimberly often shared the rides on their horses, like with Merlin (by Larinero) and Haydn (by Beethoven x Tolad)

He made his international show debut on the KWPN bred Nirvano (by Jazz x Cassis) in 2007 at the CDI-W Burbank and a month later competed in Del Mar. He then continued with Diabolo (by De Niro x Hohenstein), riding him at national and international Grand Prix level between 2009 and 2011.

His last international horse was the Hanoverian Bellino (by Belissimo M x Donnerhall) with whom he finished 9th in the 5-year old finals test at the 2010 U.S. Young Dressage Horse Championships. In 2015 he premiered him at CDI Grand Prix level in Del Mar and competing him on the West Coast through 2016. His last CDI was in March 2016 in San Juan Capistrano. His last national show was in Temecula in June 2018.


Carter was known as the inventor of the E-Z UP instant shelter, created in a Southern California garage in 1983 when he was 21 years old. He created a patented, scissors-action truss system that allows a canopy to be set up, hassle-free. Mark partnered with Brad Smith to grow his vision and E-Z UP became a leading global supplier of pop-up shelter solutions and related accessories. 

Mark Carter
Carter was known for his generosity and charity work, often flying his helicopter for  "Angel Flight West," a charity which provides free medical transportation to people in need and brings blood to hospitals. This winter he donated much of his time airlifting supplies up to the mountain communities that were cut off by this year's massive snow storms.

In an article on, Steffen Peters is quoted saying, "“Mark and I had been friends for at least 25 years,” Steffen recalled after dressage-news held off asking until the competition was over. “In the early days, Mark used to pick me up in his Eurocopter A-Star every Wednesday. We would fly to his farm, where I would help Mark with his horses. In exchange, Mark taught me to fly helicopters. (...) Everybody loved Mark’s sense of humor. He showed his horse, Bellino, successfully at the Grand Prix level. When Mark had a mistake in a test, he would humorously say, I ran briefly out of talent."

Photos © Terri Miller

Related Links
Breanna, A New Hope for Kathleen Raine
Scores: 2010 U.S. Young Dressage Horse Championships