Riding school rapped over girl's injury

AN EIGHT-year-old girl who broke her arm after she fell from a horse was left on her own and not given any first aid treatment by riding school owners, a court has heard.

Dave Gooderham

AN EIGHT-year-old girl who broke her arm after she fell from a horse was left on her own and not given any first aid treatment by riding school owners, a court has heard.

Magistrates heard Lucy Goodall spent four days in hospital following the fall at Boxted, near Sudbury, after the “reckless” behaviour of riding school owners failed to follow basic safety procedures.

Despite being described as an inexperienced rider, Lucy was given no pre-riding assessment - to determine how confident she was on a horse - and was part of a mixed-ability group of a dozen girls with one just adult.

Dorothy Laflin , who has run the riding school from Braggons Farm for more than 20 years, was severely rebuked in court for a compete lack of safety measures - despite being reminded of guidelines just five months before the accident.

Lucy was travelling in a group of about a dozen youngsters, overseen by just Laflin, when the accident happened last August.

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Caroline Whatling , prosecuting, said that a number of the more experienced riders had gone off and, although Lucy attempted to stay at the back, her horse sped up and she fell to the ground.

Ms Whatling said: “Lucy was complaining about the pain in her arm but was left to walk back to the school. She was not assessed by the defendant or given first aid. Another child telephoned her mother and she then had to stay in hospital for four days.

“The defendant failed to put in elementary safety procedures despite most of them being common sense. Failure to do so made this particular ride a high risk. The extent of this breach was very serious as the defendant ignored standard industry guidelines.”

Laflin pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety at the school and failing to notify the relevant authorities within 10 days of the accident.

Iain Daniels, mitigating, said not carrying out a pre-riding assessment was a one-off mistake, adding: “My client provides a much-loved public service.

“However, the service on this occasion has let a child down and Mrs Laflin accepts and is very disappointed by this. This is a sad chapter in what has been a very happy history.”

Officials at Babergh District Council, who brought the private prosecution after they were contacted by Lucy's mother, Zoë, said they were disappointed by the sentence after Laflin was fined a total of £1,015 for the two charges.

Julian Halls, Babergh's principal food and safety officer, said: “What should have been an enjoyable experience for a young rider turned into a painful and upsetting episode for her - including four days in hospital.

“In addition, magistrates appeared unimpressed by her failure to report the accident - and this serves as a reminder to other, similar businesses to ensure that any incidents are notified to the relevant authorities at the earliest possible opportunity.”

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