Posted by Richard Brooks, Partner
Racehorse owner admits liability for horse’s dangerous behaviour
Ms M was employed as Head Girl at a racehorse training yard. On the day of her accident, she was among the seven horse-riders who exercised horses. They were making their way back to the yard and had to go through a gate.
One of Ms M’s colleagues opened the gate and held it open while the rest of the string walked through and onwards downhill through a field towards the village. Ms M was at the back of the string about half way down the field when the horse began jumping about and running backwards. Ms M took her feet out of the stirrups as is advised to calm a horse. The horse then bolted downhill. Ms M was unable to stop the horse which seemed to attempt to jump the fence at the bottom of the field. Unfortunately it failed and hit the fence throwing Ms M over it.
Ms M sustained a ruptured spleen and dislocated shoulder and attended hospital immediately after the accident. As a result of the accident, she lost confidence in riding horses and had to change jobs. There was an issue as to whether Ms M taking her feet out of the stirrups had caused the horse to behave in the way that it did. We engaged a horse riding expert who was able to give evidence to support our client.
The racehorse training yard owner eventually accepted liability under the Animals Act 1971 which makes owners responsible for the dangerous behaviour of their animals and we were able to settle Ms M’s case for £21,000.
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