Paralysed trainer wins £1.5m compensation

  • A Lincolnshire-based racehorse trainer, whose career ended when she fell off a rearing Anglo-Arab horse, has been awarded compensation of £1.5 million at London’s High Court.

    Sally Wilson, 50, of Saltfleetby, Louth fell on to the concrete yard when the mare she was riding reared in March 2004. She suffered a dislocated neck and is now tetraplegic, despite undergoing surgery.

    Mrs Wilson, who trained Arab racehorses with her husband, has sued the horse’s owners, John and Sally Smith, for an alleged breach of their common law duty of care under the Animals Act. Her lawyers said the owners had failed to tell her the animal had been in an accident which may have left her in discomfort and prone to rearing up.

    Wilson first trained the horse, Jazzie, in 2003 and found the 15.3hh mare straightforward, according to a High Court writ. She and her husband agreed to have the mare back for more training on the agreement that they would keep any race winnings in lieu of payment.

    On the day of the accident, Wilson claimed Jazzie behaved normally for 10min on the lunge but as soon as she mounted, the mare reared straight up and threw her off. She branded the horse “dangerous”, claiming Mr and Mrs Smith were aware of this since they had seen the mare rearing at their yard shortly before sending Jazzie back to her. She also claims they were negligent and in breach of agreement by failing to warn her that the horse reared or had developed a tendency to rear.

    However, Mr David Westcott QC, for Wilson, told the court they “fiercely dispute” liability in the case. He said the mare was normally well-behaved, but prior to the accident, had backed into and broken a gate and had to be checked for injury. Westcott argued that Jazzie reared as her girth was being tightened and subsequent investigations indicated back pain might have caused her uncharacteristic behaviour.

    After the settlement Wilson’s solicitor reported that she is looking forward to continuing with the rest of her life and that the damages will enable her to enjoy a much better quality of life.

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