Student rider thrown from horse, suffering back injuries, but fails in her action for damages.

It cannot be said often enough that injuries alone will not be compensated in any court. A plaintiff must establish negligence on the part of the defendant and that this directly caused the injuries complained of.

In a recent High Court case, a student suffered injuries having been thrown by a horse which ‘bucked ‘and threw her to the ground. However, the plaintiff lost her case as she failed to establish that the equestrian centre had placed her on an unsuitable horse, without any prior warning, and was therefore negligent.

The student was an experienced rider and that day she was riding a horse called Mocha when it unexpectedly bucked and threw her to the ground. She suffered back injuries as a result and sued the equestrian centre.

In short, the plaintiff claimed that she had been given a horse with a known propensity for bucking and was not warned in advance and was therefore placed in danger. The plaintiff student tried to rein in the horse when Mocha started bucking and claimed that Mocha did not obey but instead sped up and veered left throwing her off. A witness for the plaintiff blamed the accident on the horse and not the rider.

The defendant stated in evidence that the accident was due to rider error and not because the horse was unsafe or had a poor temperament.

The High Court found in this case that two sets of experts were basically disagreeing with each other as to who was culpable. The chief issue here was whether Mocha had a propensity to buck which the plaintiff should have been warned about. The court accepted the defendant’s evidence that a bucking horse would not have been used by the riding centre. In addition, several of the riding centre’s staff attested to Mocha’s good temperament and confirmed no issues had arisen in the past with her.

The court also found that the plaintiff’s witness evidence was less than satisfactory and in some areas was inconsistent. The riding centre had not followed up with this witness after he had commented in court on Mocha’s propensity to buck.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim finding that the defendants could not be held liable for the horse bucking. The court favored evidence given on behalf of the riding centre, that the horse did not have any known propensity to buck and there seemed little evidence to suggest that Mocha was not a suitable horse for the rider.

Allen v Clonshire Equestrian Centre IEHC 10.



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