A grandmother who was killed last May when her horse bolted after spooking at farm vehicles died as a result of an accident, a judge ruled last week (12 February).

Christine Francis, 55, was hacking on a lane in South Yorkshire with John Francis — her husband of 35 years — when they met some farm vehicles. It was her first ride since undergoing a knee replacement operation 6 months previously.

Mr Francis told the court at Rotherham Coroners Court the sequence of events.

Although the vehicles stopped to allow the horses to pass, both horses became agitated. Mrs Francis was bucked out of the saddle, but her foot got stuck in the stirrup. She was dragged down the road and suffered head injuries.

Stephen Hill, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said that the drivers of the grass forager and tractor were probably unaware of the tragedy that had unfolded. Both drivers contacted the police later that day when they heard of the incident.

Mr Hill said that the “tractor drivers were in no way to blame”.

Although he, passing cyclists and another motorist tried to give assistance, Mrs Francis was not breathing and had no pulse. An air ambulance was called, but Mrs Francis died at the scene.

Pathologist Dr Arun Manoharan told the court that she had died of fractures to her skull and neck, despite wearing a helmet.