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€52,000 High Court award for personal injury after horse riding injury at Castle Leslie

A woman has been awarded €52,000 in a High Court case after she was thrown from a horse while out riding in the Castle Leslie Estate in Co. Monaghan. She was thrown off the horse as a dog ran into their path. The judge in the case said that the lady suffered a ‘nasty injury’ as a result of falling from the horse in the estate two years ago, while on a weekend break.

The lady was knocked unconscious as a result of the fall and sustained extensive brusing and suffered considerable pain in her lower back area afterwards. The area of bruising became infected causing a blister to develop on her back. The judge accepted the evidence provided by the plaintiff stating that she was in considerable pain and discomfort during the period following the accident.

The plaintiff made a number of claims throughout her case, including that there was an alleged failure to provide her with a reliable and suitably quiet horse given her limited level of experience with horse riding. She also claimed there was a failure to provide a safe route whereby there would be minimal risk of a horse becoming upset or startled en route.  She also claimed that she wasn’t provided with the appropriate safety and protection equipment (a back protector) and it wasn’t insisted that she wore the appropriate safety gear.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only as liability was not an issue in the case.

The judge also commented that the plaintiff would be left with three blemish areas on her left buttock for the  rest of her life, and he noted that while these were not serious cosmetic blemishes, they were still something that she would have to deal with on a life-long basis.

Various organizations have collected data regarding horse-riding related acccidents, including a study conducted in Victoria, Australia which found that falls accounted for about 80% of injuries. A Cambridge University study surveyed 1,000 riding accident hospital admissions. It showed these relationships between hours in the saddle and falls causing injury:

  • One injury for 100 hours of leisure riding;
  • One injury for five hours for amateur racing over jumps;
  • One injury for one hour of cross-country eventing.

The website www.horse.com recommends the following safety procedures be adhered to by providers of horse riding facilties:

  • Provision of safety gear (helmets, sturdy footwear, safety vests, safety stirrups,) Protective vests cover the upper body with high density foam padding cushioning the breast bone, ribs and back bone. The vest will also provide protection against bruising.

A case labelled as a ‘landmark case’ in the UK in 2012, whereby a teenage girl was thrown from a horse owned by her ex-boyfriends mother, awarded her over £3 million as she broke her back. The judge in the case maintained that the horse owner made an error in judgement of Ms Harris’s riding ability, and placed her on a horse that required a more experienced rider.

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