University of Vermont AAHS

Horse Accidents with Injuries: January through March 2003

Compiled by
Robert O. Dawson
AAHS Secretary/Treasurer

What kinds of injuries result from horse accidents? From what kinds of accidents do serious injuries result? Here are brief summaries of stories from English-language newspapers and similar sources throughout the world reporting on deaths and injuries to humans from accidents involving horses.

The full story is often available on the web site of the newspaper that reported the accident. Sometimes, those archived stories are available without charge and sometimes for a small fee. The name of the newspaper and the date of each story have been included in the summary to facilitate locating the full story.

A.            Accidents While Mounted, Driving or Riding

            The Australian Associated Press General News reported on December 31, 2002 that a couple was injured when they were thrown from their mounts while riding in Queensland. The 64-year-old man, who injured his left shoulder, was forced to run two kilometers to the nearest farmhouse for assistance. The 54-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with breathing problems, suspected fractured bones in her right shoulder, collar bone, and ribs.

            The Australian Associated Press General News reported on January 2, 2003 that Melbourne Cup winning trainer Sheila Laxon said she would be hesitant to get back on a horse after suffering serious injuries in a fall the previous week. In a follow-up story, the Waikato Times reported on January 4, 2003 that Laxon has definitely decided never to ride again. The accident occurred on December 23, 2002 when Laxon was riding a 3-year-old mare who was unusually nervous. She dropped her stirrups to calm the horse when she bolted. Laxon tried to steer the horse up hill when she jumped a gate and propelled Laxon into a fence. She will still train horses, but will no longer ride them. She credited a small, black polystyrene safety vest with saving her life. Without it, she said, she would have broken her back or been killed.

            The Miami Herald reported on January 3, 2003 about the progress of assistant trainer Yvonnee Azeff in recovering from her accident of almost one year ago. She was on a pony named Mouse at Gulfstream Park when the horse reared up and fell over backwards on top of her. She was in a coma for about a month and at one point was believed to be in a vegetative state. Now, after nine months of rehabilitation, she is back a work as an assistant trainer for John Ward, walking and driving an automobile, but has yet to mount a horse.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on January 16, 2003 that jockey Mark Goring, who was seriously injured in a three-horse fall at Tatura in northern Victoria the previous weekend, has died of his injuries. He was married and his widow is expecting their second child. In his career, he rode about 140 winners.

            The Chicago Tribune reported on January 19, 2003 that Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye has retired from racing as a result of a concussion he received in August 2002 at Del Mar. Doctors informed him he would be risking more serious injuries if he chose to ride again.

            The Aberdeen Press & Journal in the United Kingdom reported on January 22, 2003 that a young Royal Air Force servicewoman was injured in a riding accident on the beach. Her companion called for help and the injured equestrienne was flown to hospital where she was released after being treated for back and leg injuries.

            The Times of London reported on January 31, 2003 that Lisa Lucas, 28, was killed while riding her horse through the grounds of Windsor Great Park when her horse bolted, throwing her into a tree. A safety helmet did not save her because the impact was on her face. She had been riding since age five and worked part-time as a ride-leader at a stable in Maidenhead.

            The West Australian reported on February 5, 2003 that apprentice jockey Michael Molloy was seriously injured when his mount suddenly turned to follow another horse, unseating Molloy and then kicking him in the head. The accident occurred during an off-track training session. He is reported to be recovering but still in serious condition.

            The Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on February 6, 2003 that a 32-year-old woman was seriously injured in her throat when she was thrown into a jump post during showjumping practice. She was placed on a ventilator until stabilized and then flown to Sydney hospital for further treatment. She was the third woman in four days to be flown to hospital for horse fall injuries.

            The Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on February 10, 2003 that a woman, believed to be in her mid-40s, had an accident at an equestrian event near Canyonleigh and was fighting for her life after being crushed by her horse. She suffered a fractured skull, facial and spinal fractures when her horse bucked and she fell during an equestrian event. The horse rolled on the woman twice and bystanders resuscitated her for 45 minutes until an ambulance arrived. In other recent horse accidents, a 38-year-old woman suffered head and chest injuries and was taken to hospital after falling from a horse in Kangaroo Valley February 1. That same day, a 16-year-old girl was injured when she fell from her horse and it rolled onto her three times at Galston.

            The Sydney Morning Herald reported on February 17, 2003 that Kaylene Gillman, an apprentice jockey, remains on life support after falling from her mount during the second race. The 20-year-old suffered extensive head, face and neck injuries, a broken leg and a broken shoulder bone when she fell head-first and was crushed by her horse. The horse’s front legs buckled, Gillman went over the top and while she lay motionless on the track the horse flipped over and landed on her. The Illawarra Mercury reported on February 27, 2003 that physicians were preparing to bring Kaylene out of the coma into which she had been placed.

            The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on February 18, 2003 about the death of a girl at a horse show and injuries to four other riders. Meggan Morency, age 17, was killed when her horse fell on her during competition. The horse stumbled after a jump and fell forward, throwing Meggan to the ground. The horse then flipped forward and landed on top of her. This was the most serious of five horse accidents in Wellington that EMS responded to in a 3.5 hour period. The Palm Beach Post reported on February 17, 2003 on the other accidents in Wellington that day that required the attention of EMS: rider fell from a horse t Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, patient not transported; rider fell from a horse, same location, rider taken to hospital with possible head injuries; rider fell from horse, same location, teenage girl taken to hospital with possible broken leg; Meggan Morency’s fatal accident; and woman fell from horse, same location as Meggan, and taken to hospital with traumatic injuries.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on February 19, 2003 that a 52-year-old man, suffering head and shoulder injures after falling from a horse, was flown to hospital by helicopter.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on February 19, 2003 that a four-horse trial at Ricarton Park ended in tragedy. One horse had been put down, three jockeys were taken to hospital with injuries. One horse broke down and tossed its rider. A trailing horse stumbled over the fallen horse and threw its jockey. A third horse, being severely checked, lost its jockey as well.

            Austria Today reported on February 21, 2003 that a farmer was severely injured when the horse pulling his sleigh suddenly shied and bolted.

            The Pensacola News Journal in Florida reported on February 24, 2003 that a 12-year-old Zack Clark is recovering from a concussion and bruised lung after being crushed by a horse at a high school rodeo. He was injured when he fell from his horse during a team roping competition. The steer cut in front of the horse, which caused the mount to trip. The horse fell and took Zack with him and then rolled over the boy.

            The Chicago Tribune reported on March 4, 2003 that jockey Randy Meier will be out of action indefinitely after sustaining a broken right shoulder at Hawthorne Race Course. The 48-year-old rider was thrown to the track after his found fell on the backstretch during the first race.

            The Los Angeles Times reported on March 9, 2003 about the injuries to Laffit Pincay, Hall of Fame jockey, who was injured in a one-horse spill at Santa Anita March 1. He narrowly avoided paralysis and is pondering retirement after being fitted with a halo cast that he must wear for at least two months. Pincay has more victories than any other jockey with 9,531 victories.

The AP Online reported on March 12, 2003 that jockey Julie Krone plans to return to riding despite braking her back in a spill at Santa Anita, when she was unseated by her mount at the start of the fifth race on Saturday. She has small fractures in her lower back and compressed vertebrae in the middle of her back, but nothing that requires surgery. Krone is the sport’s winningest female jockey, who resumed riding in November after a 3.5 year retirement. She is fifth in the jockey standings at Santa Anita for the meet. She has ridden 3,595 winners in her career.

The Guardian in the United Kingdom reported on March 14, 2003 that jockey Tony McCoy was taken to hospital after breaking his collarbone in a fall in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase. McCoy was given oxygen after his fall at the second-last fence.

            The Aberdeen Press & Journal in the United Kingdom reported on March 15, 2003 that Alan Findley, 41, was thrown from his horse when he went for a morning ride at his equestrian center. The horse fell on top of him.

            The New York Daily News reported on March 17, 2003 that jockey Jorge Chavez was injured when his mount broke down during the running of the Florida Derby. Chavez landed face-first and was thought t have broken his nose, but escaped serious injury.

            The New York Law Journal reported on March 21, 2003 that the State of New York was found by a court of claims judge to be primarily liable for injuries suffered by a student who fell off a horse during physical education class. A SUNY Stony Brook student was atop a 25-year-old docile thoroughbred when she fell during a lesson. The instructor inadvertently frightened the horse with a riding crop unreasonably increased the inherent and accepted risk of partaking in a riding class. He found the state 75 percent liable. A trial on damages will occur later.

            The Houston Chronicle reported on March 24, 2003 that John Campbell, the top-earning driver in harness racing history, possibly broke his arm during a race at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. The spill occurred in the ninth race when a horse stumbled as the field passed the opening quarter-mile marker. Campbell was unable to avoid the fallen horse.

            B.            Accidents While on the Ground

            The Yorkshire Post in the United Kingdom reported on December 30, 2002 that Phillip Greally, 20, an apprentice jockey, died after being kicked by a horse at a trainer’s facility. The accident happened as the apprentice and a stable girl were trying to put a run back on a horse in a paddock. Mr. Greally is believed to have stumbled and was struck in the head when another horse kicked out with its hind legs as it cantered past.

            The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on December 31, 2002 that Eldon G. Harner, 69, noted harness horse trainer and driver, died two days after being injured in an accident at Pompano Park. Harner was taking one of his horses from its stall when the horse bolted, knocking him unconscious. Harner had 1,679 wins as a driver.

            The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on January 11, 2003 that a 53-year-old man was injured when a horse he was training trampled him. The man was working with a horse when the horse knocked him down. The man got up and resumed training, but the horse knocked him down again and stepped on his chest. He was unconscious, breathing without trouble and in fair condition when paramedics took him to hospital.

            The Express in the United Kingdom reported on January 24, 2003 that Jordan Sheffield, age 3, was killed while playing at a stables. The boy bent down t pick up an object when a horse lashed out and kicked him in the head. The boy was standing 3 to 4 feet behind the horse when he was kicked. The coroner described Jordan’s death as a tragic accident, but said it highlighted the inherent dangers of horses: “Horses are powerful animals, they re wild in nature and they are unpredictable. It must follow that close proximity to a horse is not necessarily an ideal location for young children. There is a safety factor that must be taken into account.”

            The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on February 3, 2003 that Tyler Kayes, a Fair Grounds assistant starter, was hit in the back by a horse before a race. He suffered bumps and bruises, but was not seriously injured. The accident occurred when a filly, whom Kayes had been holding in the gate, went to her knees. She arose, broke through the gate, dumped her jockey, and struck Kayes.

            The Tampa Tribune in Florida reported on February 12, 2003 that a woman has sued the Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest maintaining that a miniature horse permanently injured her daughter at the event four years ago in a petting zoo. The child, Kaitlyn Westfall was 3 when the horse kicked her in the head in 1999. The girl has pain, blurred vision, headaches, nightmares and a speech impediment, allegedly resulting from the kick.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on March 19, 2003 that Tony Prendergast, a trainer, is recovering from serious facial and eye injuries after being kicked by a horse when leading two back to their stables four weeks earlier. He suffered 10 fractures in the eye socket area and has six plates and 26 screws inserted in a small area near his left eye. The left side of his face is numb and feeling there may never fully return. A double vision problem in the affected eye is expected to be relieved.

            The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina reported on March 28, 2003 that Lisa Jackson, 35, a groom at Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in West Virginia was killed when she tried to control a runaway horse during training.  She sustained severe head injuries in the accident.

            C.            Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles

            The Herald in Rock Hill, South Carolina reported on December 29, 2003 that a 43-year-old woman, Burnette Steward, died from injuries suffered when she and two others were in a vehicle that hit a horse. The dark brown horse was thrown on the vehicle’s hood, shattering the windshield and ripping off the vehicle’s roof. After striking the horse, the vehicle traveled out of control for a half-mile before veering off the left side of the road. It ran over about 250 feet of a wire fence, several trees and then struck a large trash bin. The driver of the vehicle remained in critical condition.

            The Harrisburg Patriot in Pennsylvania reported on January 2, 2003 that two people were slightly injured when their minivan struck a horse that had fallen from a trailer on Interstate 83. The horse was euthanized.

            The Tulsa World reported on January 4,2003 that Dennis Campbell was injured when his vehicle struck a horse on the roadway at 5:50 a.m. Damages were estimated at $5,000 to the vehicle and $1,200 to the horse.

            The Australian Associated Press General News reported on January 18, 2003 that two people and one horse died in a road collision. Two horses strayed onto the highway and a car struck them at about 11:45 p.m., killing two people and one horse and causing a chain collision with two other cars. Four persons, two children and two adults, were airlifted to hospital.

            The Western Gazette in the United Kingdom reported on January 16, 2003 that two horses were killed after they found their way onto a busy road and were struck by rush-hour traffic. Three motor vehicles were involved in the accident, although only two of them hit the horses. The horses were euthanized.

            The Lancaster New Era in Pennsylvania reported on January 22, 2003 that a horse-drawn buggy and a motor vehicle collided. There were no serious injuries. The buggy was pulled onto the road into the right-of-way of the motor vehicle.

            The New Zealand Herald reported on February 12, 2003 that a woman was killed in a collision between a horse-drawn vehicle and a motor vehicle. She and her husband were driving the two-wheeled vehicle on a public road when a motor vehicle approached from their rear. The horse swerved in front of the motor vehicle causing a collision. The woman, Mrs. Goodall, suffered severe head injuries and died almost immediately. Her husband was not injured.

The Australian Associated Press General News reported on February 22, 2003 that a man in his early 20s died when his motor vehicle collided with a horse at about 3:30 a.m. He died at the scene.

            The Lancaster New Era in Pennsylvania reported on February 27, 2003 that Mary and Jacob King, both 72, were injured when their horse-drawn buggy was hit from behind by a suspected drunken driver. The buggy was pushed across the roadway into the eastbound lane. The motor vehicle driver was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants.

            The Hartford Courant in Connecticut reported on February 28, 2003 that a jury awarded a man $2,000,000 for the injuries he suffered when his motor vehicle collided with a horse on the roadway. The award was against the Town of Colchester. The Town’s ordinances do not require animal owners to fence in their farm animals. Part of the claim was that the Town’s animal control officer failed to take control of the horse despite the repeated neglect of the horse and its tendency to roam. The motorist, now 21, had been an all-conference soccer player who now has almost no movement in his right side. The Town said it will appeal.

            The Lancaster New Era in Pennsylvania reported on March 5, 2003 that Katie Stoltzfus, 31, escaped serious injury when her horse-drawn buggy was hit by a tractor-trailer. She turned left into a driveway as the truck was attempting to pass her. The impact knocked the buggy onto its side.

            The Tulsa World reported on March 8, 2003 that Larry Joe Landreth, 56, died after he was struck by a tractor-trailer and a pickup while he was riding a horse on a state highway. The horse stepped onto the highway and into the path of a tractor-trailer. The impact knocked Landreth into an oncoming pickup. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

            The Houston Chronicle reported on March 13, 2003 that two horses being used on mounted patrol at the Woodlands Mall were injured when a car backed into one horse and then ran into the other. The occupants were arrested for aggravated robbery and evading arrest. The mounted security guards were attempting to arrest the two for misdemeanor shoplifting. The mounted guards were treated for minor injuries.

            The Dayton Daily News in Ohio reported on March 18, 2003 that Roy Rogers, 52, was arrested in connection with a collision he had with a horse-drawn buggy that left three people seriously injured. He was arrested for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.

The Bangor Daily News in Maine reported on March 22, 2003 that a Morgan horse died after being hit by a station wagon. Sixteen-year-old Faith Bailey was taking her horse into the barn when he got away from her and went into the road. The motor vehicle struck the horse in the forelegs. The horse’s body hit the windshield, cracking the safety glass. The driver was unharmed.

            The Financial Times in the United Kingdom reported on March 24, 2003 that the House of Lords Law Lords ruled that horse owners can be held strictly liable for injury or damage caused by their animals. The case involved a couple, whose three horses broke out of a field at night and ran down a busy road. One collided with a car, causing the driver serious injuries. The Law Lords, by a 3 to 2 ruling, said that owners were liable t pay compensation under the Animals Act, even though they had not been negligent.

            D.            Preventing Injuries from Horse Accidents

            The South Florida Sun-Sentinel printed a letter to the editor on January 12, 2003 from a Boca Raton resident about the dangers of urban carriage rides: “Horses in traffic are accidents waiting to happen. A balloon bursting can startle a horse, as can a horn blowing or whatever else occurs in a regular day. The result of a startled horse can lead to accidents and deaths to people and animals.”

            Newsday reported on March 14, 2003 that Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a cross-country accident in 1995, has had a pacemaker threaded into his diaphragm in an experimental procedure that could help the quadriplegic actor breathe and speak more normally and without a ventilator. Reeve said he could smell for the first time since his accident. Doctors said it would take months of practice with the pacemaker before his ventilator could be removed permanently. The breathing device has four electrodes connected by wires to his diaphragm and to a tiny external battery pack outside the chest wall. The pack electrically stimulates the diaphragm to contract, letting air into the lungs.

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