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Horse Riding Lessons & Accident


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Hi all,


As some of you know, I have recently taken up horse riding and having lessons at an Equestrian Centre close to my home.


I have been unhappy at the standards of teaching at the centre and had made my concerns known. Basically there is 1 BHS AI (British Horse Society Approved Instructors) and 2 other girls who are competant and experienced riders, undertaking degrees in Equine Studies, who teach as well.


One of the instructors is a young girl more interested in her mobile phone than teaching or keeping the riders safe.


I have also had concerns about the conditions of the saddles and tack.


My first concern came about after the girth strap from the saddle broke and although I came off the horse, I landed on my feet and none the worse for it. It transpred this saddle belonged to another horse and was too small and very worn for the horse I was initially riding.


There has been a change of instructor every week and yesterday I went for another lesson.


I first found that I had been triple booked with 2 other people, which was annoying as I had paid for a block of 10 private lessons.


The horse I normally ride was being used for one of the other ladies and I was put on another horse, who I have riden before, so I was fine wth riding her.


When we got to the school arena the horse was fine, there was some jumps laid out from the previous lesson which had not been put away and as I don't jump I assumed they were for the other riders, as they had been told on their previous lessons they might be learning to jump this week, so none of us questioned it. The instructor kept usng her phone for texting and took a phone call whilst in the lesson.


When my horse was transitioning up to the trot she was becomng quite skitish and hyper and trying to rear. I asked the instructor to help me and she told me to shorten my reigns, which made the horse slightly calmer.


Later in the lesson the horse was again becomng skitish and unpredicatable, she tried to kick the horse behind me when we were standing. I again asked for help controlling the horse and was told she was pregnant and just to kick her if she was playing up, which I wasn't happy to do.


The instructor then said we had to go to canter, the lady in front of me when and was fine. then my horse when and she went mad, the instructor then came after her wth a whip thing, whilst on her mobile, and the horse ran straight toward the jump, rearing as she went, I managed to stay on until the point where she tried to jump and failed, she panced and threw me off onto the ground.


I hurt my back and pelvis in the fall and it was suspected I'd fractured my hip in the fall, so I was taken by ambulance to hospital.


Luckily, my hip was fne but they think I may have irritated my sciatic nerve and my pelvis, plus I have horrendous bruising and pain all down my legs, sides and my back.


The A&E doctor recommended, due to the extent of the bruising, around 3-4 weeks off work, I have awful sciatic pain and they think I made need physio. I have to walk with crutched at the moment to try to let the bruising in my pelvis heal.


The owner of the riding school rang me today and she said I had to come in and sign their accident book, which is fine, but she read to me the instructors version of events, which totally differ to my recollection of events, it basically puts me at fault because I couldn't stop the horse from taking the jumps, which was not the case, the jumps shouldn't have been there of they weren't being used (as I hadn't riden with these other 2 people, I assumed they were going to start to jump) and I had asked for help controlling the horse twice. Indeed I heard the instructor say to her boyfriend (who also turned up) that the horse in question always goes for the jumps if they are out and she is cantering. I was not made aware of this and if I had, I would have refused to canter her whilst the jumps were out.


I got out of hospital in the early hours of this morning.


The owner of the school range me this morning and I told her my version of events. She sad she didn't believe me and I had to sign the accident book in any case. She just laughed and said it was one of those things with horse riding.


I don't see why I should sign her version of events as I do not agree with the version of events given. In my opinion, the instructor was distracted by her mobile and she admitted the horse was one who ran towards jumps when in canter.


Also, it transpired the same horse had earlier in day, been out on a lesson, and thrown another rider off, stamping on their abdomen, this came out in conversation with the owner.


I'm really annoyed as I feel there are things I should have been told before getting on the horse. I also do not want to just go along with the riding school's version of event, I wish to make my own statement regarding the issues, in this case, is it worth typing my own copy and taking it up to the riding school or would I have to do it with them present?


What annoyed me was they had no first aid proceedure in place, nor do they keep records of the riders, such as personal details, it came to me this morning that if I had been knocked unconcious, no-one would have been able to get hold of my husband. I've also not signed any insurance waivers or disclaimers.


If anyone knows any way of approaching this best, please let me know as I want to do this properly, by the book, in case the instructor tries to sue me for post traumatic stress or something, or worse case scenario, if I had to take action against them, which I don't want do, in the event I wasn't able to go back to work.


I also want to get the money for my remaining 5 lessons back as I don't want to return to this riding school.



TF xx

All my knowledge has been gained from personal experience and the sharing of advice from fellow members.

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Good to hear that you didn't suffer any more serious injuries, though I'm sure it was a frightening experience.


There are times when coming off a horse is unavoidable; however, when you are under the supervision of riding school staff you should expect the possibilities to be minimised.


It seems to me that a phone call to the Health and Safety Executive would be in order. The details can be found at Ask an expert


The owner of the riding school has a statutory obligation to report the incident under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). This may be why she is asking you to sign the accident book - though she seems to be attempting to minimise the potential impact to her.


Were you wearing a properly fitted helmet and back protector that meet the necessary standards? If not, were you advised to wear these and/or sign a disclaimer if you decided against them? Was there a qualified first-aider at the site, and did they follow the correct procedure?


I would expect a riding instructor to warn you about any habits a horse has - one of those I ride regularly would jump over a particular gate if allowed to, but because I was made aware of it I'm able to control the situation when we get near.


Top tip for when you get back in the saddle (and you shouldn't let this experience put you off), learn to gallop - and then imagine you are charging, sword in hand, into the midst of Robinson Way's staff picnic... Works for me!

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Hi tooth_fairy,


i have just read your message and am appallled at the treatment you recieved! I am a qualified but non practising British Horse society instructor, and taught and ran my own riding establishment for many years.The instructress you had was actually an assistant instructress, thats what AI stands for. Before any class, every horse should be tacked up, and his tack thoroughly inspected, to avoid such accidents happening. And if the saddlery was cleaned and cared for, as it should be, it would be more than obvious if there was a problem with it. As to the booking arrangements they sound shoddy and unprofessional.When instructing a class, mobile phones should not be used and not carried, as they can frighten some horses, and the instructress should be giving you her undivided attention at all times.It sounds from your description of events, that the instructress acted in a negligable manner, and certainly in a way that was not appropriate.You should never frighten a horse with a whip in that manner.As to signing the accident book, i would not do so if you do not agree with it. Have you checked whether this riding school has a licence to operate, and if it has public indemnity insurance and is approved.The local council can advise you about this.I would take the matter up with the British Horse Society, as they are very strict on how their instructors conduct themselves. And they can advise you what course to take. All riding establishments should have certain procedures in place, health and safety is of utmost importance as horse riding can be dangerous,it is a must for them getting their licences.I hope this is of some help.

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Thanks to you both,

to address Scarlet First- I was wearing my own rding hat, which was properly fitted at an equestrian shop and no I wasn't wearing a body guard from the centre- there is none there and I haven't been asked to sign any kind of disclaimer or waiver.


No, there was no first aider on site, it was actually one of the other riders who told the instructor to call 999.


I wasn't made aware of the horse's habits nor was I advised what to do if there ever likely to be a fall, but I think this is maybe down to the fact the instructors have changed and so there hasn't been one person continously taking charge of my learning.


Ammani- I agree with you we should have had the instructos undivided attention and I am not going to sign the accident book if I do not agree with the version given. My OH has checked that they do have a licence to operate, which they do, he also has asked for details of their insurance now but I will investigate the BHS proceedures.


Also, just to ask, is it worth writing a letter of complaint to the mangeress/owner or just go straight through the BHS?


Whatever happens I am not going to let ths stop me riding, just not at this establshment.

All my knowledge has been gained from personal experience and the sharing of advice from fellow members.

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Well done for not letting it stop you from riding! It IS a harardous sport but as Scarlet says, those risks in a riding school should be minimised.


Re: the other riders in your class that day, they would be able to witness and verify your version of events? Particularly stating they saw the AI using her mobile. Also, were you all of the same standard? You shouldn't be in a lesson with others if you're all varying standards (especially if you'd paid for a private lesson which is generally more expensive than a group lesson anyway).


If what you say about the AI is true, and you can back it up with witnesses, you may have a case for negligence. Even more so if you've never signed any kind of agreement with them. Check this is the case re: agreements. Ask them to provide you with a copy of what you did sign if they claim you did.


Then perhaps see one of the ambulance chasnig solicitors? (No win no fee personal sccident). Whilst I do not recommend them in general, a letter or two from them may be enough to make them sit up and take notice of you.


Good luck, and enjoy the riding in future! Let your new RI know of your past experience and she can match you up with a horse tht is less flighty.

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Thanks, the 2 ladies in the class had been riding longer than me but were still beginners themselves and I have the phone number of one of the ladies who witnessed the whole thing and she has sad she's willing to back up what actually happend.


I just do not want this to happen to anyone else in the future, that's one of my main concerns.

All my knowledge has been gained from personal experience and the sharing of advice from fellow members.

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It sounds to me like you have a claim for negligence - especially that one who is one the phone all the time. You have no duty or obligation to sign an accident log which you believe is false. I would not even worry about the future relations (because I wouldn't touch the school again!).


I have been thrown from a (friends) horse as well when I was 10 due to the saddle not being put on correctly by his (now) ex wife - my friends horse was right behind me (but thankfully missed trampling over me when I was lying unconcious on the ground!)


I do have an idea of how you feel and I think it is a situation for which you should take legal action on - if only to get the silly girl (madam mobile) barred from going near a horse again. If she wants to work in that area, she should be giving 100% attention to it at all times.

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Yes i agree, you do have a case for negligence, on the part of the instructress, who was supposedly teaching you. As an instructress she was in charge of peoples welfare and their safety, and should be giving 100% concentration, and certainly not chasing a horse with a whip! I am sure that it was this action that caused the horse to rear.You should write a letter of complaint, listing the failings of the instructress to conform to safety procedures.You should not have been in a group lesson, having booked for a private one, and as you had booked a block of private lessons, then the same instructress should have been assigned to you.List your points, also the bit about the girth breaking previously, and let them know you will be contacting the BHS, and will seek legal advice, this should shake them up. I would also contact the local council who gave them their license, as they have breached their terms and conditions, of safety procedures, and they could have this revoked. It is appaling how some of these riding schools are run, i really cannot understand why they do it, if they cannot show the dedication, commitment and professionalism that is required. I do hope you keep up with the horse riding, as it can be a very rewarding pass time, when you are given the correct tuition and guidance.The BHS will give you the name of approved riding schools in your area if you request it.They only approve ones that have passed their stringent rules and regulations.

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It is appaling how some of these riding schools are run, i really cannot understand why they do it, if they cannot show the dedication, commitment and professionalism that is required..


Interesting comment. Public liability insurance premiums have increased massively recently for riding schools, forcing many of the smaller, and also the badly run ones, out of business. I'm sure the riding school's insurer would be interested to hear of their antics also. they should have a certificate of public liability on display.

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Just an idea, you could see about forcing the girl to get a breakdown of her calls/texts from her mobile network. This might prove she was using it during your lessons. I don't know how possible this is due to the Data Protection Act etc but "if she wanted to prove her version was correct" she might be forced into a bit of a corner?!?!


I'm no expert in this field, just an idea I had!

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