University of Vermont AAHS

Horse Accidents with Injuries: January through March 2004

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 Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on January 2, 2004 that a woman injured in a horse riding accident was airlifted to hospital. 


            The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on January 2, 2004 that Gary Hakanson, 65, died when he was thrown from a horse.  He was riding his horse bareback when it threw him and he struck a tree.


            The Townsville Bulletin in Australia reported on January 2, 2004 that a man participating in a rodeo suffered spinal injuries after falling off a horse.  He was competing in the saddlebronc event when he fell and landed on his head.


            The Nelson Mail in New Zealand reported on January 5, 2004 that a 32-year-old tourist was flown to hospital with suspected abdominal injuries suffered as result of being thrown from a horse.


            The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported on January 6, 2004 that Louise Bonsall, 23, the girlfriend of footballer Michael Owen, suffered a fractured pelvis when the horse she was riding stumbled, reared up and fell over on her.  On January 20, 2004, the Daily Mail reported that Ms. Bonsall’s injuries are more serious than first believed.  She fractured her pelvis in five places.  She has been in hospital for two weeks.


            The Hobart Mercury in Australia reported on January 6, 2004 that a 51-year-old man suffered internal injuries when he was thrown from his horse on Nebraska Beach.  He was flown to hospital by helicopter.


            The Adelaide Advertiser in Australia reported on January 9, 2004 that apprentice jockey Cody Morgan was thrown from a horse during a workout and required several days rest because of a bruise to his coccyx region.


            The Nelson Mail in New Zealand reported on January 7, 2004 that a 22-year-old woman was taken to hospital after falling off a horse.  She suffered a fractured arm.


            The New York Daily News reported on January 9, 2004 that pony girl Hannah Blumenthal, 52,  died from severe head injuries she suffered in a spill at Belmont Park when she was thrown from her horse into a metal rail during a workout.


            The Charlotte Observer reported on January 21, 2004 that 15-year-old Kelsey Briggs was severely injured when her horse bolted and threw her into a metal gate.  She received brain surgery, which resulted in placing a metal plate in her skull.  Although doctors have warned her that she is at increased risk if injured again, she plans to continue riding and competing in horse trials.


            The Birmingham Post in the United Kingdom reported on January 22, 2004 that Samantha Hudson, age 33, died as a result of injuries suffered while competing in the novice section of a one day event.   Her horse hesitated at a jump, throwing Ms. Hudson over the obstacle, then toppled over himself, landing on her.  Similar falls were responsible in the United Kingdom for the deaths of six riders during the 12 month period beginning in May 1999.


            The Manchester Evening News in the United Kingdom reported on February 12, 2004 that Joanna Pugh, 26, was riding her horse when it suddenly leaped into the air throwing her into a shallow body of freezing water.  Friends phoned for help but it was two and one-half hours arriving.  She was approaching hypothermia by the time of her rescue.  She had avoided severe bruising to her back and pelvis and was released from the hospital the same evening.


            The Lansing State Journal reported on March 9, 2004 that Juliana Routhier, 28, died in a fall from her horse when it ran from a pursuing pit bull dog.  She and a friend were riding when the dog left a yard and charged the horses.  Ms. Routhier’s foot came out of the stirrup and she fell, hitting her head on the ground.


            Austria Today reported on March 11, 2004 that the 42-year-old driver of a horse-drawn tourist carriage suffered severe injuries to his chest and arm when he fell under the wheels of his carriage.  He had leaned out to pick up reins that had fallen on the road when he fell.


            The Austin American-Statesman reported on March 19, 2004 that world champion barrel racer Martha Josey, 66, was hospitalized after her horse hit a gate during a rodeo.  She broke six ribs, punctured a lung and fractured her skull.  After a run that tied for first place, her horse apparently tried to run through a partially opened gate. 


            The Cairns Post in Australia reported on March 19, 2004 that media heir James Packer was hospitalized with a dislocated shoulder and concussion he suffered in a polo match accident.


            The State in Columbia, South Carolina reported on March 20, 2004 that T.V. star Paris Hilton was injured when a horse she was riding threw her and kicked her in the stomach during the taping of “The Simple Life2,” a reality show.  She suffered a bruised stomach but was not seriously injured.



            B.        Accidents While on the Ground


            The Buffalo News reported on January 7, 2004 that race horse trainer David Schmidt, 45, was killed when he was kicked by one of his horses.  He was moving horses from one place to another when he was kicked.


            The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram reported on January 15, 2004 that Garrett King, age 2, died after he was dragged through a pasture by a pony.  The boy’s baby sitter was moving horses from one pasture to another.  The boy wanted to lead a horse, so the sitter wrapped the pony’s lead rope around the boy’s waist a couple of times and placed the end of it in his hands.  The boy fell and spooked the horse.  He suffered fatal head injuries as a result of being dragged.


            The Observer in the United Kingdom reported on January 18, 2004 that an anti-hunt protester, Simon Wild, 45, suffered head injuries and seriously damaged his leg after being struck by a horse during a hunt.



            C.        Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles


            The Hattiesburg American in Mississippi reported on January 7, 2004 that two people were hospitalized when their car struck two horses .The car was driven by J.D. Preston, 83.  It hit a horse and then a second horse with a rider.  The rider was treated in an emergency room and released.  Preston was listed in good condition, while his wife Catherine, was listed in stable but fair condition in the intensive care unit.  The rider was attempting to return cattle to an auction facility from where they had escaped when he and his mount were struck by the Preston vehicle.


            The Grimby Evening Telegraph in the United Kingdom reported on January 21, 2004 that a horse was killed and its rider injured when the horse spooked into the path of a van and was struck.  A second horse bolted and threw the rider, who was not injured.


            The Deseret Morning News in Utah reported on February 14, 2004 that LDS Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, 72, is recovering from a skull fracture after his car hit a pair of horses in Wyoming.  The first horse was decapitated, while the second smashed through the car’s windshield on the drier’s side and peeled the roof off the car down to the trunk.  A CT scan on Featherstone revealed a skull fracture, a possible fractured cheek and other injuries.


            The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on February 20, 2004 that two horses who escaped from their corral onto a public road were struck by a car and killed.  The driver of the car, John Wiza, 18, was treated at a hospital and released.  The horses apparently escaped by kicking open a gate.  Dennis Hughes of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said that vehicle accidents involving horses are “few and far between.”  He said there are about 200 vehicle accidents involving animals other than deer each year in Wisconsin.  He reported that black bears are the most common victims, followed by turkeys, cows and horses.  But hitting an animal as large as a horse can have serious human consequences, he noted.


            The Florida Times-Union reported on February 28, 2004 that Rick Alan Ross, 51, died after his motorcycle struck a horse that ran onto the road into his path.  Ross, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown into a ditch and suffered a severe head injury.  His wife, Teresa, a passenger on the motorcycle, was hospitalized with multiple injuries but was released a few days later.  The owner of the horses, James Ira Hill, had earlier been order by a judge to get rid of his horses because of previous instances in which the horses had escaped to the highway.  At the time of the accident, persons were attempting to remove five horses for placement in foster homes.  As part of that effort, a teenager was leading a stallion from a fenced area toward a trailer when the animal broke free and ran onto the highway.


            The News Journal in Delaware reported on March 9, 2004 that Daniel Emory, 45, was charged with vehicular assault when his vehicle struck a horse-drawn buggy that sent four members of the Detweiler family to the hospital with a variety of serious injuries.  The motor vehicle driver was also charged with driving under the influence, inattentive driving, and leaving the scene of an injury accident.


            The Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer Journal Sunday News  reported on March 11, 2004 that a car driven by Joel B. Boyer, 18, struck a horse-drawn buggy operated by Elam Huire, 21, at about 10 p.m.  Huire, who was attempting to cross an intersection, suffered minor injuries.


            The Chicago Tribune reported on March 14, 2004 that five horses escaped from a stables onto a public road.  All were retrieved without incident.  The horses escaped when a person delivering hay neglected to close the gate when leaving the facility.


            The Daily News in the United Kingdom reported on March 15, 2004 that horses that escaped from a farm onto a road lead to a rear-end collision.  Cars were stopped on the road where the horses were when an approaching car crashed into the rear of a stopped vehicle.  There were no serious injuries.


            The Lancaster New Era Intelligencer Journal Sunday News reported on March 15, 2004 that eight people were injured when a car struck the back of a horse-drawn buggy.  The driver of the car is being investigated for driving under the influence.  The four occupants of the buggy and the four occupants of the car were all treated at hospital and released.


            The Western Gazette in the United Kingdom reported on March 18, 2004 that a minibus driver, blinded by the sun, plowed into the back of a mounted horse.  The struck rider and her riding companion were both thrown from their mounts and suffered bruising. 



            D.        Preventing Injuries from Horse Accidents


            The Courier-Journal in Lexington, Kentucky reported on February 10, 2004, as part of a story on the death of jockey Michael Rowland in a fall during a race that a 2000 study of Jockeys’ Guild insurance data by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that nearly 20 percent of all jockey injuries are to the head or neck.  From 1993 through 1996, the study found that U.S. jockeys suffered 6,545 injuries serious enough for treatment.  Since 1940, there have been 144 jockey deaths in North America according to the Guild.


            The Courier-Journal in Lexington, Kentucky reported on February 17, 2004 that jockeys riding in Kentucky will no longer be required to wear helmets that meet stringent national safety standards.  The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority suspended a four-year-old rule requiring riders to use helmets that comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials and the Safety Equipment Institute.  Jockeys told the Authority that those helmets are uncomfortable and prone to sliding forward on a rider’s head, leaving the skull exposed during a fall.  The Jockeys’ Guild, which originally endorsed the tougher standard, now supports changing the policy.  Jockeys can now choose which helmets to wear.  Louisville attorney and equestrian Ned Bonnie testified against changing the standard.  “Let’s just hope nothing bad happens,” he said.


            The National Law Journal reported on March 1, 2004 that Anita Lehew, 42, was awarded damages of $1.3 million by a South Carolina jury when three horses scampered out onto the road.  Ms. Lehew’s car collided with one of them.  Ms. Lehew claimed that the horses’ owner forgot to lock the gate.


            The Age in Australia reported on March 5, 2004 that a former nurse who suffered massive injuries when a stray horse struck by a car crashed into her vehicle won $900,000 Australian damages in court.  The accident transformed Sherilee Meech, 29, into a brain-damaged, virtual recluse whose friends have deserted her, according to her barrister.  The accident left her with multiple fractures, blind in one eye, partially deaf, without a sense of small or taste and with facial scaring.  Inadequate fencing was blamed for permitting the horse to escape to the public road.  The Herald Sun reported on March 19, 2004 that an appeal has been taken from the decision on liability.


            The Lexington Herald Leader reported on March 13, 2004 that jockey Corey Nakatani was suspended for 30 days by the Santa Anita stewards for causing Javier Santiago to fall from his horse when he veered outward and bumped Santiago’s mount.


            The Contra Costs Times reported on March 16, 2004 that the parents of Shana Ericksson, 18, a Fresno State University equestrian team member who died after falling from a horse, have filed a $10 million negligence claim against the school.  They contend their daughter was put at risk by the school’s lack of coaches or supervision.  Shana’s horse spooked, whirled around and then fell on her during a trail ride with two teammates.  The University maintains the accident was unrelated to any team activity and that Ericksson was riding at her own risk.  The claim comes on top of a recent admission that an assistant coach injected two horses with tranquilizers at two recent competitions.  The University said the practice did not violate any rules, but would nevertheless be stopped.  The NCAA doesn’t have rules about drugging horses at equestrian competitions.  But U.S. Equestrian bans the use of tranquilizers before competitions.  The all-female equestrian team, with close to 100 riders, is a significant piece of the University’s efforts to comply with Title IX gender equity requirements.  Although the equestrian team had begun practicing at the time of Shana’s death, no coaches at that time had been hired to replace departing coaches. 

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