The coroner at the inquest into the death of former Cattistock field master Fiona Vigar has highlighted the failings of her “beagler” style hat.

Mrs Vigar, 43, suffered serious head injuries when her horse slipped on the road in Loders, Dorset, on 24 January (news, 7 February).

She was airlifted to hospital and underwent brain surgery, but died from her injuries 17 days later. She had recovered from head injuries sustained in a previous fall in 2011.

The inquest last week heard that the headgear she was wearing was made of linen coated with a shellac-based paste to form a hard plastic and did not carry a kite mark.

The warning label inside read: “This cap is not intended to protect against personal injury and does not comply with the relevant standards.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the West Dorset coroner Mr Sheriff Payne said: “She was wearing a hat, but not a crash hat or a protective form of hat and she would have been aware of that because of the prominent label inside it.”

Tim Bonner from the Countryside Alliance said: “Hunting is a dangerous sport and unfortunately people are killed every season.

It’s a personal choice but, as this inquest highlights, everyone ought to be aware that some headwear is considerably safer than others.”

Speaking after the verdict, Mrs Vigar’s husband Chris said: “It shows the importance of wearing adequate safety equipment when undertaking these sports.

She died doing something she loved.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (29 August, 2013)