The death of a woman due to a clipping accident has reminded the equestrian community of the potential dangers of handling horses on the ground.

Mary Hancy, 55, from Norfolk, suffered head and abdominal injuries while clipping her five-year-old homebred earlier this month (11 January).

Her daughter, Kelly, said the accident was a case of “wrong place, wrong time”.

“He was a bit spooked by something and kicked out and caught her,” she added.

Mrs Hancy was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in a critical condition, but later died of her injuries. An inquest has now been opened into her death.

The news provoked a huge response, with more than 100,000 people reading the story on HorseandHound.co.uk. Many H&H readers shared stories of near misses.

“My boyfriend’s horse reared and caught him on the side of his face and his shoulder while clipping,” said Gemma Lowdon.

“My boy kicked out in the summer while I was putting his boots on,” added another.

“He caught the side of my hat and still sent me clean over. I keep my hat and body protector on now at all times.”

Last year H&H reported on new research from the US which showed that fatal head injuries are as likely to happen on the ground as while riding.

The British Horse Society’s Jo Winfield reiterated that it is important to take all precautions possible when on the ground.

“It is best practice for anyone handling a horse while it is being clipped to wear a hat,” she said.

“The person using the clippers should also wear head protection, but you should be careful that this does not restrict your sight.

“It is often in your peripheral vision that you are most likely to spot if a horse is about to move or kick.”

Ms Winfield added that it was important to ensure the area is free from distractions when clipping a horse.

“We don’t know the full details of what happened in this case, but a door slamming or a dog running past can easily spook a horse,” she said.

Ref: H&H Thursday 29 January, 2015

  • Eilidh Somerville

    Since so many horses can spook at the slightest thing then why can’t people start desensitizing them at an early age? Granted I don’t have a horse of my own, but I know it’s possible. On average more people are killed by horses than by dogs every year. Yet so much emphasis is put on training and socialising a dog from puppyhood. There are also laws that people who have dogs have to abide by which include legal action even if a dog accidently injures a person and fines if dog mess isn’t picked up. However there are no such laws for people who have horses and I think it is high time there were. What would happen if a horse was being ridden in public and it spooked striking out at or bolting into a pedestrian? Would rider/horse insurance cover that or would the pedestrian be entitled to seek legal action? Anyway I am sorry to hear about this woman’s death and hope that lessons can be learned from it.