Dressage judge cleared of negligence

  • A List Three British Dressage judge has been cleared of negligence after a five-year legal battle.

    Richenda Walsh brought the case against dressage judge Jaine Bailey and her mother Pat Phythian after a pony reared and fell on top of her, causing severe back injuries at their Finlow Hill Stables, Cheshire, in June 2008.

    Ms Bailey was helping her godchildren in the arena when the accident happened. Ms Walsh, who was then 17, claimed that, after she was bucked off once, Ms Bailey had instructed her to remount and had fitted side reins, causing the pony to become “agitated”.

    But Ms Bailey always maintained that side reins had not been fitted and there were not even side reins on the yard that would have fitted the pony. Another teenager was also by the arena when the accident happened and took a sequence of photographs, in which the pony was not wearing side reins.

    Last month, the judge at Manchester County Court dismissed the case after failing to find evidence of any negligence.

    “It’s a real relief as this has been going on for five years,” Ms Phythian told H&H. “It’s horrible when anybody accuses you of something which you know isn’t true.”

    Clare Garnett, an associate at Berrymans Lace Mawer who defended the two women said: “Whilst this was a very black and white case, it does highlight that interviewing witnesses and retaining witness evidence is incredibly important in these types of cases.

    It is also important to remember that some activities come with an element of risk and that sometimes horses can be very unpredictable.”

    This story was originally published in 19 December issue of Horse & Hound.

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