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Vicky Reid v. Equiworld Club Limited, Sheriff D.J. Cusine, Aberdeen Sheriff Court, 23 November 2010


The pursuer sought damages from the defenders in respect of an incident at their premises on 18 February 2005, when she fell from one of their horses and sustained a cross fracture of one of her thoracic vertebrae, and according to her, a mild brain injury.

The pursuer submitted that prior to her accident, the horse she was riding at the time had suffered an injury to his back when he fell on ice, and that after this fall, he was not fit for show-jumping practice. The pursuer submitted that this ought to have been known to the riding school, if it had been taking reasonable care. It was submitted it was reasonably foreseeable that if the horse was not fit, this could result in injury to persons riding him, e.g. the pursuer. The pursuer submitted that as a result of the horse being unfit due to injury, the horse bucked during the practice session, causing the pursuer to be thrown from the horse, resulting in her loss, injury and damage.

The defenders submitted that there was no factual evidence to support any of the key elements of the pursuer's case. The defenders submitted that there was no evidence to support the contention that the horse in question had in fact suffered an injury to his back, and moreover, the pursuer's account of the incident could not be found to be credible and reliable, as it directly contradicted evidence led from other eye-witnesses, upon whom the court could rely as being unbiased and disinterested in the outcome of the action.

The Sheriff preferred the evidence led by the defenders, and agreed that if the horse in question had suffered an injury to his back, it was only a minor one that resting had sufficiently taken care of. Moreover, the defenders' eye-witness evidence was to be preferred, which had indicated that the pursuer had suffered an injury as a result of the horse bucking, due to “rider error”, namely excessive whipping of the horse when he refused a jump. The Sheriff concluded that he was not persuaded that the horse was seriously injured at the time of the accident, and was moreover not persuaded by the pursuer's account of the incident. Accordingly liability for breach of duty of care was not established.