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Family vows to make horse riding safer, after triplet dies in holiday accident


The family of an eight-year-old boy who died in a Riding Accident on Holiday have said they are launching a campaign to make horse riding much safer, especially for new riders.

Triplet died in a fall while on a four-week holiday to the USA in April. One of triplets, he had been celebrating his birthday and was riding in a State Park near Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri when the accident happened.

His mother a freelance social worker, told an inquest at Chelmsford in Essex that the family had seen the 20-minute rides advertised in a tourist brochure.

His mother does not ride, but watched her husband and her three children being led by a professional rider, who allegedly fell off their own mount, “spooking” the other horses in the party.

The triplet had slipped sideways on his mount and fell slowly to the ground – his mother told the inquest how she had seen him being kicked in the head by the hind leg of the animal before he was dragged along the ground.

The triplet was taken to University Hospital Missouri where he died the next day – a post-mortem concluded that death was due to a blunt-force trauma to the head.

His parents are now suing the ranch that organised the horse rides – but said they were taking legal action in the States not because of the compensation, but to ensure that safety issues were addressed and a similar accident did not happen to another child. The family is also launching a safety campaign in the UK to ensure novice riders are safe.

"The more I find out the more scared I am for children in this country," said his mother, who claims parents who do not ride are unaware of the correct questions to ask instructors.

"I'm not a horse rider," she said. "Nobody helped us check the helmets – it was a bit looser than I would have liked, but it was the third one he tried on and we ended up doing it ourselves without any advice."

She said that unless parents were riders themselves they "don't know what questions to ask".

"We live in a horsy area and everybody I have spoken to knows about incidents of children on horses who have had very serious accidents," added his mother. "It's more dangerous than motorcycling."

"Given I know it's dangerous, I want children to have a licence and riding establishments to train them up to a riding standard." The assistant deputy coroner for Essex Eleanor McGann recorded a verdict of accidental death.

If you have suffered an accident whilst on holiday abroad, you can contact Simpson Millar’s experienced Holiday Accident Compensation Claims Team on 0808 145 1351 for free advice. Alternatively, complete the attached enquiry form and contact us by email for advice.

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Dated: 02/12/2011