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A rider who was left paralysed from the chest down after her horse was startled by a motorcycle has launched a legal battle for compensation of more than £300,000.

Shelley Brown, 46, suffered serious spinal injuries when her horse, Tommy, bolted and tried to jump a gate, but fell.

Now Ms Brown is suing uninsured motorcyclist Ian Surry of Sandown Road, Southwick, whom she blames for the accident in West Sussex on 18 March 2006. Ms Brown, of Hove, is also suing the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which provides insurance for the victims of uninsured drivers in some circumstances.

She was hacking with a friend on a single-track road, when they saw Mr Surry on a 250cc trail machine, according to a High Court writ, issued by Scott Rigby of Stewarts Law.

Because of the noise and speed of his motorcycle, they tried to warn him to slow down, but he continued to approach them at speed before turning in front of them into a car park, claims Ms Brown.

Tommy spooked before bolting into a bridleway, where he tried to jump a gate. He hit the top of the gate and fell, causing catastrophic injuries to Ms Brown.

She is paralysed from her chest down, and fears she is at risk of developing a cyst on her spine as a result of the accident.

Mr Surry held only a provisional licence and was not insured to drive on the roads, the writ claims. Ms Brown brands him negligent and that he failed to keep a proper lookout for horse riders, rode towards them at speed and failed to respond to their signals to slow down.

Mr Surry also negligently failed to manage his bike, either by driving at a reasonable speed, slowing down, or stopping to avoid the risk of the horse spooking and bolting, it is alleged.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (7 May, ’09)