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A woman left in a wheelchair after being thrown from a horse, has launched a damages claim, potentially worth millions, in the High Court.

Dawn Rhodes and partner David Land, of Walton, Wakefield, Yorkshire, bought seven-year-old gelding Balloo in 2003 and stabled the horse on a farm in the nearby village of Crofton.

Balloo was broken, but still “green”, and Miss Rhodes, an inexperienced rider, felt unable to ride him when, in April 2004, they wanted to move Balloo to new stables in their village.

However, help arrived in the shape of experienced rider Lynn Stroud, 38, London’s High Court heard, on 8 April.

Miss Stroud offered to ride Balloo to the new stables — a journey which entailed crossing the busy A638 Doncaster Road — having first asked Miss Rhodes whether the horse was “fine” on roads, said her counsel, David Wescott QC.

But the favour went disastrously wrong when Balloo, spooked by traffic, ran across the path of a car, causing an accident that left supermarket area manager Miss Stroud paraplegic.

Car driver David Marks and Balloo were both unharmed.

Now Miss Stroud, who also lives in the Walton area, is claiming massive damages from Miss Rhodes and Mr Land for what she says was negligence in letting her ride the horse across the A638 — an “obvious hazard”.

Mr Westcott said: “The claimant was riding Balloo on occasion for Miss Rhodes. She had no knowledge or experience of Balloo’s behaviour on the roads.

“If she had been appraised of the true situation she would not have attempted to ride him across the Doncaster Road,” the barrister concluded.

But James Rowley QC for Miss Rhodes and Mr Land argued that Miss Stroud “voluntarily took on the risk” when she offered to ride Balloo and should shoulder responsibility for her injuries.

The two-day hearing concluded on Wednesday (9 April) and Judge McKenna reserved his judgment on the case until an unspecified date.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (17 April, ’08)