Horse rider sues horse’s owner for compensation after the horse injures her

Ms Ford and Tommy

Lisa Ford was crushed while out hunting on a horse that she had borrowed. She was badly injured and she’s seeking compensation from the horse’s owner. What chance has she got of winning? She’s suing the owner of the horse for £100,000 in damages. She claims that the horse was hot and a bit naughty. She said that the horse was “a fun horse..he wanted to be fast moving and do things. He was a horse that could be naughty when excited. You needed to be a good rider for Tommy. He could misbehave while out hunting. That’s the reason I had to school him to make sure he would behave for the children. Tommy was a hot horse. No one would deny Tommy was a hot horse.”

Ms Ford and Tommy

Ms Ford and Tommy. Photos: Champion News.

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So she got on a horse which she knew could be a bit ‘naughty’ and she, as a groom, schooled him to be less naughty. She was riding with the Beaufort Hunt. The owner of the horse is Mr Seymour-Williams. He is the director of three companies in Warwickshire and Wiltshire. He claims that the horse was not being naughty and insisted that Ms Ford was riding with the hunt “for fun on a frolic of her own”.

Ms Ford suffered serious injuries when Tommy reared up and fell backwards on her. Tommy thrashed around and pinned her to the ground and died on her. It is believed that he may have suffered a catastrophic internal injury which caused his death. She’s suing the owner under the Animals Act 1971 claiming that Tommy was triggered into the dangerous act of rearing because of his disobedience or because of the catastrophic internal injury. In either case she claims that Mr Seymour-Williams is legally liable and obliged to compensate her in the sum claimed.

Comment: there are risks when fox hunting. You can be injured. She would have known about those risk. She knew that Tommy was a naughty horse. She was full aware of all the risks and took them. The case will turn on 2 factors. Firstly whether Tommy suffered an internal catastrophic injury causing him to fall on her. If that can be established then it is impossible, in my view, to blame the owner. It would have been unforeseeable. Only if the event was foreseeable and the owner did nothing about it to prevent it could he be deemed to be liable in my view. Secondly, it could be argued that she accepted the risks and is the author of her own demise. I’d give her poor prospects of winning the case.

Ms Ford is a groom and Mr Seymour Williams, 66, is her former employer.