Paralysed trainer takes claim to High Court

  • An Irish trainer, who has been left paralysed from her chest down after being run over by a horse in a warm-up area, took her case for more than €900,000 special damages to the High Court in Dublin last week (15-16 October).

    Deirdre Bourns was knocked down by a four-year-old horse called Miss Red, who was being warmed up by Hayley Dunne at Cavan Equestrian Centre’s indoor championships on 19 September 2012.

    Mrs Bourns, from Co. Galway, has sued the Showjumping Association of Ireland, Cavan Equestrian Centre Ltd and Ms Dunne.

    She claims Showjumping Ireland did not provide adequate supervision and did not ensure the presence of a safety steward at all times.

    She argues that Cavan Equestrian Centre allowed the fences to be positioned too close to each other and failed to remove Miss Red from the warm-up arena, even though the horse had reportedly shown dangerous behaviour.

    She also alleges that Ms Dunne failed to exercise adequate control over the horse, which had reportedly run out of control on two occasions before the collision. All of the defendants deny the claims.

    The incident has already led to some Irish shows introducing “horse-free zones” in warm-up areas to improve safety (news, 1 May). Plastic traffic barriers of 1.20m in height are positioned between fences to create safe areas “where a groom or trainer can retreat after adjusting the fence”.

    Ms Bourns spent months in rehabilitation after the accident and still needs a number of carers to help with all aspects of daily living.

    The court was told that after discussions on Thursday (16 October), progress had been made and the case could be adjourned for a month.

    This news story was originally published in Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday 23 October, 2014

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