The inquest into the death of an amputee soldier – who was crushed by a horse during a Help for Heroes parade – has heard that he had only had an hour of riding tuition before the event.
Platoon Sergeant Mark Stebbing, 39, a Gulf War veteran, was being led back to the stables after the parade at Sandown Park in February when his mount, an ex-racehorse, reared and came down on him.
The inquest heard that Sgt Stebbing had undergone just one hour of riding tuition before the parade, which took place in front of 5,000 spectators. He suffered severe crush injuries and was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, where he later died.
The event was organised by the Army rehabilitation organisation Battle Back and was supported by the Help For Heroes campaign.
The inquest heard that other riders in the parade had been given military horses from the King’s Troop to ride, which were more suitable for riders with limited experience.
Lieutenant Colonel Reynold Blue, who investigated Sgt Stebbing’s fall on behalf of the Army, said that following the death he had recommended that at all future events horses and riders should be matched according to their capability. Soldiers’ injuries should be taken into account, he added.
But a Health and Safety investigation ruled that the accident could not have been foreseen and that all procedures had been followed prior to the parade.
Surrey Coroner Michael Burgess recorded a verdict of accidental death.