Sunday 17 December 2017

Young horseman died after horse 'became spooked and fell'

Colin Guinan
Colin Guinan

Gareth Naughton

A young man died when the horse he was riding fell, throwing him headfirst to the ground, an inquest heard.

Colin Guinan (25) from Main Street, Banagher in Co Offaly suffered fatal injuries to the head in the fall on July 17 last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Guinan was on his way back from a short ride on the horse when it became spooked and fell on a relief road in Lusmagh, near the family's stables.

His brother Jonathan Guinan told the coroner that he had been riding the same horse for a half an hour when Colin came up to the stables to ask if he could help him with anything. He said he asked him to walk the horse to cool its muscles down. The plan was that he would go down as far as a nearby river and comeback. “He had years of experience including many seasons hunting over a lot of terrain that would be difficult,” he said.

About 15 minutes after the dead man headed off, two friends came to the farm to tell him that his brother had been in an accident and was lying on the ground, he told the court.

The accident, which happened at around 6.30pm, was witnessed by several people including Bill Rooney, who did not appear in court but whose deposition was read into the record. He said that he was driving on the road when he noticed Mr Guinan on the horse and he and his wife remarked that the animal was “very giddy”. “Within a few seconds of saying that, the horse took off and started galloping up the road. It appeared that something had spooked the horse,” he told gardaí.

Mr Guinan was attempting to control and calm the horse down but as the mare began to turn, she lost her footing and fell to the ground.

“I saw the rider fall and hit his head on the ground also. He wasn’t wearing any head protection. As the horse got up the rider hit his head again on the ground. The first time was on the right side of his head and the second was face on,” Mr Rooney said.

He was rendered unconscious immediately. He was taken to Beaumont Hospital where CT scans showed that he had suffered an extensive traumatic brain injury. Mr Guinan went into cardiac arrest and resuscitation attempts failed.

At post-mortem, the pathologist found that he had suffered severe head injuries with multiple fractures as well as chest injuries.

Sergeant Kevin Ganly of Ferbane Garda Station said that there was no apparent reason that the horse was spooked. “It was just a tragic accident,” he said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of accidental death.

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