Investigations have been launched into a rider’s fatal fall on 15 April, during a short-distance pleasure ride in an endurance event attached to the inaugural Welsh Festival of the Horse.

The death of Jane Jones, 45, a mother of two from St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, marks the first rider fatality in an endurance event.

Endurance GB and Neath Port Talbot Council have launched separate investigations, with local police preparing a file for a coroner’s inquest.

Ms Jones was one of 40 entrants in a 10-mile pleasure ride, organised by Endurance GB alongside a graded ride as part of the festival run by the Welsh Equine Council (WEC) at Margam Park.

Early reports speculated that Ms Jones’s horse had spooked and bolted, resulting in her falling heavily. She was taken to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, by air ambulance but died there. A post-mortem has been held and a coroner’s inquest will follow.

Endurance GB chairman Wendy Dunham said Jane Jones was not a member, but entered the pleasure ride on a day membership basis. She added that all entrants were covered by insurance providing third party liability, but no personal accident cover. The event was held on forestry land adjoining Margam Park.

“We are devastated for the family,” she said. “We believe endurance events are the safest [of all equestrian disciplines] and this is the first fatality I’m aware of.

“I’m sure it will come out that this was the most unfortunate accident that could have happened anywhere. In endurance, there’s no jumping or speed involved.”

Wendy Dunham said pleasure riders would attain successful completion of the ride only if they rode at less than 12kmh, adding that horses were vetted before and after the event.

Welsh Equine Council (WEC) chairman Martyn Williams also expressed his condolences.

“Our thoughts go out to her family and also Endurance GB,” he said. “This is tragic and unfortunate and makes us all realise that sometimes equestrian sports can be dangerous pastimes. But that shouldn’t detract from the enjoyment that people get out of riding.”

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (27 April, ’06)
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