A WOMAN who broke her back during a horse riding lesson is suing the school for £20,000.
Sarah Douglas, 35, claims the horse bolted as she changed her helmet, throwing her from the saddle.
Mrs Douglas, from Leuchars, Fife, says she was left with a fractured vertebrae and ribs following the incident in 2009.
After the accident she needed “extensive assistance” from her husband, missed university exams, and continues to suffer back pain.
She claims Edenside Riding School was negligent for failing to make sure her helmet was fitted properly.
The horse, Annie, trotted off as Mrs Douglas took her hands off the reins to adjust her helmet, it is claimed in papers lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Lawyers for Mrs Douglas, 35, say that on 12 December 2009, she went to the riding school near St Andrews, Fife, with her daughter Lauren, 9.
The papers state: “She mounted her horse, which was called Annie. After riding for a few minutes [Mrs Douglas] felt her hat digging into the back of her head.”
Mrs Douglas told Phyllis Rodgers, the woman giving the lesson, about the problem, say the papers.
Mrs Rodgers decided the hat was too big and sent a child to collect another one, which was handed to Mrs Douglas to put on.
“She required to stop holding the reigns to do this,” say the papers.
It is claimed that Mrs Rodgers then told Lauren to start trotting, at which point Mrs Douglas’s horse moved.
The papers state: “As Lauren’s horse trotted past, [Mrs Douglas’] horse set off at speed, causing [Mrs Douglas] to fall from the horse and thereby sustain [her injuries].”
The casualty was taken to Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, where an X-ray found she had fractured ribs and vertebrae.
“[Mrs Douglas] continues to experience back pain particularly in cold weather,” say her lawyers.
She was unable to take university exams because of the accident and “required extensive assistance from her husband Scott.”
Mrs Douglas’ lawyers say Edenside Riding School failed to ensure her helmet was properly fitted. It was only her second lesson, they said.
Edenside Riding School is owned by Raymond Gatherum. Lawyers for the school said Annie had been ridden by various members of the family, including younger children.
They said: “There were no problems with her behaviour. She is a horse of quiet temperament.”
Mrs Rodgers twice told Mrs Douglas not to adjust her helmet while on the horse, they added.
“[Mrs Douglas] had a duty to act in accordance with the instructions she was given. In particular [Mrs Douglas] had a duty to keep hold of the reins while mounted on Annie.”
They say the accident would not have happened if she had acted in accordance with instructions given to her.
Mrs Douglas is suing Raymond Gatherum, who runs the Riding School, for £20,000 plus interest of 8% per year and expenses.
Both sides were unavailable for comment today.