The young girl was riding a horse named Babar, which weighed over half a ton and was supervised by a riding instructor. The incident occurred on April 3, 2014. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had also suffered from a preexisting allergic inflammatory condition in her esophagus that affects digestion known as Eosinophilic esophagitis. The condition can make it difficult to swallow food amongst other problems and required a surgical tube to be inserted through her nose through her esophagus.
During the first part of the lesson as the girl was training on her horse, everything appeared fine. But as the lesson progressed more and more horses and riders began to enter the ring. As the ring became more crowded, plaintiff’s mother alleged that the horse her daughter was riding became “spooked”. When horses get spooked they can toss off their riders and gallop away uncontrollably. For safety, it is important to keep a horse from being spooked when riding.
As the lesson was winding down, the girl’s trainer was standing about 10 feet in front of the horse holding a lunge line. It was at this moment that the horse bolted forward. As the girl held onto the horse’s neck for approximately 20 seconds, the horse continued to gallop before she was thrown from the horse into a wall made of concrete. She sustained a cracked helmet and broken hip as injuries from the incident. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
At the emergency room, she was diagnosed with a displaced fracture in the proximal left femur with mild valgus angulation of the fractured apex. She was required to undergo surgery and received a number of screws in her hip. While undergoing physical therapy in the subsequent weeks, she developed a neurological problem around her left hip. This then resulted in another surgical intervention where she had to have a screw removed. More physical therapy was required.
The surgeon for the plaintiff stated that she is likely to suffer from problems with her gait that may require additional surgeries in the future. In the lawsuit, the girl’s family sought damages for the pain and suffering resulting from the accident and the subsequent surgeries, as well as for her permanent injuries. She has a long scar on her leg and alleged that she continues to feel pain in her leg.
The lawsuit further alleged that the horseback riding center did not have a suitable emergency plan in place for riders that might become injured under the supervision of a trainer. The plaintiffs had hired an equine expert to offer an opinion on the conditions and policies of the center. The North Jersey Equestrian Center had an insurance policy that provided coverage of up to $1 million written by Farm Family Casualty Insurance Co.
While this is certainly an unusual case, it is foreseeable that an injury like this can occur to a rider. Since the case settled, we will never know what a jury would have decided.