Sunday 16 June 2019

Woman who sued after she was injured while horse riding on a fox hunt loses High Court action

Aisling Begadon, of Rathdowney, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Aisling Begadon, of Rathdowney, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A woman who sued after she was injured in a horse riding accident on a fox hunt has lost her High Court action.

The horse rolled back on hairdresser, Aisling Begadon, after she jumped over a felled tree.

Ms Begadon was an experienced rider who,  Ms Justice Brongah O'Hanlon said, ought not to have unnecessarily jumped the dangerous obstacle.

The judge said a warning had been given about the tree.

Aisling Begadon, of Rathdowney, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Aisling Begadon, of Rathdowney, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Ms Begadon did not have due regard for her own safety, she said.

"Even though she was an accomplished horse person, she was an inexperienced hunter on an inexperienced horse taking part in an entirely unpredictable sport with the fox at its centre," Ms Justice O'Hanlon said.

Ms Begadon(36) Aughmacart, Rathdowney, Portlaoise, Co Laois, had sued Laois Hunt Club Ltd which organised the hunt. She also sued James Ferney of Ballgeehan, Ballacolla, Co Laois, who owned the lands where the accident occurred on March 8, 2014.

Ms Justice O'Hanlon said Ms Begadon had successfully crossed a river and this led into a field with a whitethorn tree obstacle on the other side.

The judge said Ms Begadon made the decision to jump the obstacle and the horse's feet got caught in brambles in the tree causing the animal to fall and roll on top of her. She suffered a severe back injury.

Ms Begadon claimed the obstacle was a hazard and was foreseeable.

She contended she ought to have been advised not to take the particular jump and an insufficient effort was made to pass back information that the "Field Master" had indicated members of the hunt not to take the jump.

The judge believed the warning was properly communicated.

Only three of the group of 40 to 50 riders, including Ms Begadon, attempted to jump the obstacle, she said.

"It seems to this court there was an obligation on all members of the hunt to follow the Field Master, to keep reasonably  close to him and not to lag behind at the back of the hunt and to ensure they were appraised of any directions he gave," Ms Justice O'Hanlon said.

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