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 Aberdeen Press & Journal in the United Kingdom reported on June 28, 2003 that David Heron, 27, was injured when the horse he was riding landed on him just before starting its round at the Burgie International Horse Trials. The horse is suspected to have suffered a heart attack. The rider is in satisfactory condition.
The Newcastle Herald in the United Kingdom reported on June 30, 2003 that a 13-year-old girl who fell from a horse was airlifted to hospital with suspected spinal injuries.
The CBS Morning News reported on June 30, 2003 that Great Britain’s Prince Harry was thrown to the ground after his pony got agitated during a polo match. The Prince was not hurt and finished the game.
The Canberra Times in Australia reported on July 4, 2003 that a woman who fell from a horse required helicopter evacuation because of the rugged terrain in which the accident occurred. She suffered a fractured leg and was taken to hospital in stable condition.
The Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on July 7, 2003 that a 30-year-old man suffered spinal injuries and was flown to hospital after he was thrown from his horse. He had been on a recreational ride when he fell.
The San Jose Mercury News reported on August 6, 2003 that 61-year-old Eric Friden died when he fell from his horse during a polo practice. He died of a brain stem injury.
The Western Morning News in the United Kingdom reported on August 8, 2003 that a judge gave the owners of a riding stable where a 13-yer-old girl had died in April a conditional discharge, which is a form of probation. The girl, Rachel Crossley, died in a mounted accident at the stable. The court heard how that horse did not have a saddle or proper bridle on at the time and that Rachel’s riding hat was too big for her. She died of head injuries.
The Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina reported on August 10, 2003 about an accident that occurred when Wendell Ott, a 63-year-old lawyer, found himself falling down a cliff in Idaho accompanied by his horse. He suffered five broken ribs, a crushed elbow, dislocated shoulder, punctured lung, head wound needing 31 stitches and nerve damage that may permanently limit use of his left hand. The horse died from the fall. The horse panicked when its hind legs went off the narrow trail and threw Ott; both fell about twelve feet down a cliff.
The Orange County Register reported on August 20, 2003 that a stagecoach careened out of control and ran into a fence at Knott’s Berry Farm. Several passengers were slightly injured and one of the four horses was killed. There may have been a problem with the hydraulic braking system on the coach. Stagecoach trips were suspended and all four of the Farm’s coaches will be inspected before rides are resumed.
The San Antonio Express-News reported on August 20, 2003 that 101-year-old Connie Douglas Reeves died following a mounted accident. She was a riding instructor, who has taught more then 30,000 young girls to ride horses at Camp Waldemar in Texas. She died of cardiac arrest in the hospital twelve days after being thrown. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living member of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
The Evening Times in the United Kingdom reported on August 21, 2003 that 64-year-old Margaret Taylor died when she was thrown from her pony while riding it in a field. It fell on her, crushing her.
The Irish Times reported on August 25, 2003 that 42-year-old Jane O-Flynn, one of Ireland’s top event riders, was critically injured in a fall during a one-day event. She suffered serious head and chest injuries when her horse somersaulted on top of her. She received emergency treatment at the fence before being airlifted to hospital.
The Liverpool Echo in the United Kingdom reported on August 25, 2003 that a 4-year-old girl was killed when she was thrown from a horse that spooked. She suffered head injuries.
The Guardian in the United Kingdom reported on August 26, 2003 that a 4-year-old girl died when he was thrown from a horse being led by a staff member at a riding stable. The horse is believed to have been spooked by something in nearby bushes. The Guardian’s story concluded that the girl is the third to die from accidents involving horses in recent days.
The Independent—London reported on August 26, 2003 that 33-year-old Samantha Hudson died in a fall at a one day event. She fell at the 14th fence on the novice course, a log over a ditch. The horse breasted the obstacle and somersaulted onto the rider, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The remainder of the competition was cancelled as a mark of respect for Ms. Hudson.
The Patriot-News in Pennsylvania reported on August 29, 2003 that 37-year-old Tracey Langtree suffered a broken back and other injuries when she was thrown from her horse. She walked for 3 ½ hours before being spotted by a helicopter. She suffered a concussion and whiplash upon falling from her horse in the woods, but is now in good condition. Ms. Langtree’s mother alerted police when the horse returned home with a broken bridle and no rider.
The Herald in the United Kingdom reported on August 29, 2003 that 19-year-old Rebecca Davies was killed after being thrown from a horse and dragged for a quarter of a mile. She was exercising a racehorse at a stable when it was forced to jump over another fallen horse, throwing Rebecca from the saddle. She was dragged when her foot became lodged in the stirrup. Another stable girl told an inquest that she was riding her horse when it fell, blocking the gallop track where Rebecca was riding.
The Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on September 8, 2003 that a teenager was rushed to hospital with closed head injuries she sustained in a fall from a horse. The previous day, a 50-year-old woman sustained serious injuries when she was thrown from her horse.
The Dominion Post in New Zealand reported on September 15, 2003 that a woman suffered serious chest injuries after falling 60 meters down a gully while riding a horse. Four firemen were airlifted into the gully to stretcher the 24-year4-old woman out. The horse was put down at the scene by a vet.
B. Injuries While on the Ground
The Providence Journal reported on July 2, 2003 that 70-year-old Paul McCabe was injured while a spectator at a Fourth of July parade in which a draft horse broke free and ran toward him. McCabe was slightly injured in his escape from the horse. He said that he thought the horses were spooked by parade decorations.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on August 14, 2003 that 40-year-old Beth Pisto was killed as a result of being kicked in her head by a horse. She was standing behind the animal when she was kicked and suffered a fractured skull. At the time of the accident, she was trying to give her helmet to another person so that he could ride. She got off her horse, took off her helmet, and walked behind the horse to give her helmet to a friend when she was kicked in the head.
The Guardian in the United Kingdom reported on August 15, 2003 that 42-year-old Terry Coles died after he was trampled by a mounted police horse being used in a crowd control effort at a football game.
The Evening Standard in the United Kingdom reported on August 20,
2003 that 13-year-old Victoria Ivey was killed when she was kicked by a horse in
field. Victoria, her mother, and
two siblings were with the family’s four horses in a field when one of them
suddenly ran across the field and starting kicking Victoria’s pony, that
Victoria was grooming. Victoria was
fatally injured when she was caught between the two animals.
Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles
The Newcastle Herald in the United Kingdom reported on June 30, 2003 that a race horse and groom were struck by a drunk driver when they were crossing a street between Broadmeadow racetrack and the stables. The horse, Bounty Hill, was killed. The groom, Pat Woods, was hospitalized with shock and injured ribs.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported on July 8, 2003 that a horse bucked off its rider and ran onto the Ventura Freeway, where it was killed when it was struck by an automobile. The horse was being ridden on an equestrian center next to the freeway when it spooked upon seeing a coyote. It bucked off its rider and ran through a fence opening onto the freeway. Neither the equestrian nor the driver of the vehicle was seriously injured.
The Portland Press Herald in Maine reported on July 24, 2003 that 46-year-old James MacKenzie was killed when his car was struck by a horse on Interstate 95. The horse, weighing about 1400 pounds, crashed into the windshield and roof of the car, killing itself. The owner told police that a spooked deer may have run into the electric fence enclosing the horses, knocking it down, and that the horse eventually found the hole in the fence. A police spokesman said that fatal car accidents involving domestic animals are rare in Maine. Moose are a much greater danger to motorists; there were four fatal moose collisions in the past two months.
The Deseret News in Utah reported August 31 that 35-year-old Frederick Cornpeach died when the vehicle in which he was a passenger struck a horse and ran off the highway. Carmalita Montes, 31, the driver, suffered a broken neck as well as facial and head injuries. She was taken into police custody for driving under the influence of alcohol and for vehicular homicide.
The Florida Times-Union reported on September 3 that three persons were killed as a result of a horse-car collision. Donnie Leverett was riding his horse on the highway when it was struck by a truck. The truck swerved into the oncoming lane and collided with an automobile, killing three of the four occupants. Killed were Amanda Pierce, 27, Joey Pirce, 32 and Bonnie Rast, 51. The fourth passenger, Jessica Pierce, 22, was in serious condition in a local hospital. The rider of the horse was charged with the criminal offense of involuntary manslaughter.
The Florida Times-Union reported on September 10, 2003 that 51-year-old Ricky Ross died of head injuries as a result of a collision between his motorcycle and a horse. He and his wife, Teresa Ross, were transported to hospital by helicopter. She had been wearing a helmet and was treated and released; he was not wearing a helmet and died four days later. The horse broke loose from a woman who was holding him and ran onto the highway, where he collided with the motorcycle.
The Allentown Morning Call in Pennsylvania reported on September 12 that police are attempting to determine who owned a horse that collided with a vehicle injuring 74-year-old Wallace Schlegel. Police said that it is not unusual for sheep, cows or chickens to get loose on the highways, but that horses run loose only a couple of times a year.
The News Journal in the United Kingdom reported on September 12, 2003 that a 60-year-old Wyoming man was injured when he was thrown from his horse-drawn buggy after he was struck in the rear by a motor vehicle. The man was admitted to the hospital with head injuries and a fractured pelvis.
The Miami Herald reported on September 14 that 74-year-old Myron
Marmorstein was killed when the vehicle in which he was a passenger was struck
by a horse. The horse, galloping
wildly on the road, was saddled but without a rider.
Police are searching for the horse’s owner.
Preventing Injuries from Horse Accidents
The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on June 22, 2003 that Ann Hall, a registered intensive care nurse and riding instructor, had the following comments about horse safety: “A lot of people think that horseback riding can be very dangerous. It’s not necessarily dangerous if you are properly trained, if your equipment is well functioning and if you wear a helmet. If you do fall off a horse, a head injury is one of the worst things you can get. Your head is the most precious thing, so it’s really important that you wear your helmet and prevent injuries. Helmets are very light and very breathable so your head doesn’t get hot. There’s really not any excuse. Still, you will see a lot of ‘cowboys’ who think it’s not cool to wear them.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on July 2, 2003 that Cinda Warner, the manager of trauma and injury prevention at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa offered this advice for the prevention of head injuries: “Wear a helmet and protective gear when biking, skating, skateboarding or riding scooters, horses or ATVs. Every 21 seconds, one person in the USA suffers traumatic brain injury, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Anything you do that is faster than you can run, you should have a helmet on.”
The San Jose Mercury News reported in July 6, 2003 about the comparative risks of injuries from various animals. The paper reported the following from The Secret Life of Sharks written by Peter Klimley: “In the United States, there are 220 deaths per year from accidents related to riding horses, 50 from the stings of wasps or bees, and 10 from dog bites.” By comparison there are fewer than 50 shark attacks occurring around the world each year.
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