I responded to an ad online for horses for lease on a monthly basis. The 5 horses were outlined by temperment and experience needed for the rider etc. One caught my eye:
There was one 16 year old 18HH (7 feet 2 inches tall to his back), warmblood gelding, retired jumper/event horse for lease and the ad said “We have a beautiful 18 hand warmblood gelding for trail lease. He has been retired from show jumping. He is a nice horse, with a great personality, and easy to ride. He is a good husband type horse. he would go english or western. He would be a great mount for your husband, or the lady that is just getting back into the saddle.” As well as “he is great on the trails. he is gentle enough for riders of any age. We have a 4 year old girl tat rides him. he moves smoothly and with big strides. He is a retired three day eventer.” and on the rating Temperament: (1=calm, 10=spirited) he was rated a 3!!
So I decided to take my boyfriend on 11/29/09 to see if he would be a good horse for us. My boyfriend has little experience and is a novice rider, I am an experienced rider who up until a year ago have owned horses. I was raised with horses in my family, on my property and trained and raised them.
When we arrived, the lady who was in charge of the ‘leasing program’ (I’ll call her Sue), took us to see her 4 horses that she owned that are for lease. The warmblood (I’ll call him Gift-Horse) belonged to the stables sole Trainer/Lesson giver (I’ll call her Amy), so I don’t think that Sue was going to make a profit from leasing Gift-Horse – she seemed to be doing it as a favor more or less. Sue told a little girl, who had to be about 10 years old or so to go get Gift-Horse out. He’s the one we chose to test-ride in the stables arena.
I thought cool, the little girl is getting him, so I was further convinced that Gift-Horse was gentle and well-mannered as described in the ads and explained to my boyfriend and I in person. She took Gift-Horse to the round-pen to let him run around. He just walked in slowly and layed down and rolled. The trainer/owner ‘Amy’ went in with the lunge whip and got him running around the pen. This is a typical thing to do for any horse before riding so that it warms them up and also releases any pent-up energy.
I was handed the Halter after about 10 minutes and told to go ahead and get Gift-Horse out of the round-pen. I walked him over and tied him up at the wash-rack to groom him and saddle him. He was calm and just slow and kinda lazy. When I was picking his hooves he didn’t want to hold his own leg up and kept lazily leaning in his weight on me. Its not a good habit, I never let my horses do that, but its also not an indication of anything except lack of training in etiquette on the horses part.
I was asking if I wanted to ride in an english saddle or western saddle. I chose an english saddle knowing that jumping/eventing horses typically use snaffle-bits which are not for western riding, they aren’t for neck reining. So I brushed him really good for about 15 minutes and just petty his face and feeling him out. No problem. I saddled him and cinched him but he kept pushing his belly out making it quite difficult to cinch him. This is another etiquette thing. My horses were taught not to do this and if they did they got a smack to the underside so they’d stop holding in the air. Well so he was cinched/saddled and I put the bridle on him. He made no fuss getting the bridle on which was great!
I walked him over to the mounting block and cinched him a little tighter. If you walk a horse around who is holding in air they eventually have to let it out, so I took that time to make sure he was cinched tight enough that the saddle would not come off. I mounted him and my boyfriend followed on ground with Sue to the properties riding arena.
I started with about 4 rounds around the arena just walking. Then I asked Gift-Horse to trot by squeezing with my theighs and the minute I let up on the pressure he would stop trotting. I was finding it hard to keep him at a trot without working myself out to death. So I decided to use voice commands. I squeezed with my theighs which repeating out-loud to trot. This was working fine except he wasn’t staying on the rail. I used the reins and leg-pressure to guide him back to the rail at a trot and he was just so lazy. We went around about 5 times like this and Sue who was sitting outside the arena with my boyfriend exclaimed that I have “nice form.” But I figured no wonder anyone can ride him, he’s so lazy!!! At this point I felt he was safe enough or lazy enough rather for my boyfriend to get on and walk around a bit. We got him up into the saddle and the horse just followed me around as I walked in the arena. I kept him close by and watched carefully as my boyfriend has only ridden a horse a few times in his life. I some pictures of him on Gift-Horse and then we switched and he took some pictures of me.
Afterwards I told Sue that I don’t think this is the horse I want to lease. I told her that I have to work hard to get him to do anything but walk and that’s not enjoyable at all. She told me he’s better on the trails but he was definately not for me. She said OK, and that she would go saddle up one of her horses, a Tennessee Walking Horse if I wanted to try that horse out. TWH are gaited, they move out fast so even a lazy TWH is fun to ride. So Sue left me and Gift-Horse in the arena to do a few more laps until she would get back with her Tennessee walking horse.
About 20 minutes had gone by and Gift-Horse was well enough warmed up (me too for that matter) and I squeezed and asked him to canter. He would start a canter and a few seconds later just start trotting fast and move far off the rail. So I decided to not focus on trying to keep him on the rail and just do circle 8′s. I voiced outloud for him to canter and squeezed with my theighs and after a couple circle 8′s I finally got him to do a nice canter. As we rounded the end of an 8 he started trotting fast again so I voiced again to canter repeating this command and squeezed. Out of no where he started bucking wildly and on the 4th buck I went flying backwards off of him and landed 8 ft. to the ground on my back and blacked out.
My boyfriend saw everything and said the horse was vertical by the 3rd buck, that the horse wasn’t lifting his front quarter only kicking with his back legs. It all happened so fast from my vantage point, I just remember being scared I was going to get throw over top of him and get stepping on.
This should not have happened. This horse was on his own familiar grounds, it was peaceful and quiet there, not a busy stables by any means. I would put money on it that if this horse were to be assessed by a professional equine rider/trainer that he would not be found to be sane or a suitable horse for ANY child especially, but especially not a novice or someone “just getting back in the saddle.”
Amy, the horses owner was in the round-pen giving a lesson to a girl on another horse and exclaimed later to my boyfriend that she had “caught the tail-end of it.” But she did not rush over to make sure I was OK, she just stayed in the pen giving her lesson as if it didn’t even happen!! My boyfriend rushed to me and Sue was still not back at this point. Apparently Amy didn’t even yell for Sue to get over to my aid as I lay still — passed out on the arena floor. According to my boyfriend It took me around 3 minutes to fully regain consciousness. My boyfriend was a Hospital Corpsman/EMT/LVN in the Navy so he has medical training. He asked if I could feel my toes and I could but it wasn’t until he helped me up that I realized how extensive my injuries probably were. I couldn’t look left or right and could only, with his help, walk straight very slowly. We made it to the arena gate and I couldn’t sit down so I stood still and he went to get his car. He got it as close to me as possible and then helped me in. It hurt to bad to sit down and I couldn’t lift my own legs so he lifted them into the car for me and I laid back.
Not a single ounce of concern or anything. Neither Sue nor this dreaded horses owner Amy offered any help or to call an ambulance or anything!! They took it lightly as if I had only just got the wind knocked out of me. We left and went to the hospital and I was admitted immediately to Trauma ward. I was placed on a gurney with a neck brace and I had CT-Scans of my spine. Makes me sick to think of all the radiation I absorbed while in that thing.
The Dr’s found that Lumbar 1 through 4 were fractured and that I suffered contusions in my Thoracic (between my shoulder blades). I was given IV morphine with anti-nausea stuff and taken inpatient. The Dr’s worked on finding the best pain medication for me for pain management. I was eventually released with Norco 10/325 and Percocet 5/325 to limit the amount of acetominophen I’d be ingesting to the next 2-3 months at least.
Returning home I was unable to sleep in my own bed or do much of anything. It hurt so bad to sit down that I’d just stand a lot. I spent 3 days throwing up from nausea and it subsided. It’s now 3 weeks later and I’m really depressed. I start school January 25th and hope I will be able to manage that (dental assisting). How I feel is that I was misled and the horse was completely misrepresented. I imagine the horse took Sue leaving as an opportunity to act up and buck me off. This was supposed to be a horse that I could ride to the beach on trails, alone, and be safe. This is a horse that is advertised as child-safe, with a calm gentle disposition. I can’t imagine what could have happened if I had actually taken this horse out alone on trails!
Still to this day the ads are posted and the same misleading information is being written about this horse. Gift-Horse broke my back, and yet these 2 ladies are still trying to lease him out as a safe animal. I signed a 1 small paragraph long generic waiver before riding stating that I wouldn’t hold Sue (specifically) liable. However this horse does not belong to Sue, this horse belongs to grounds trainer/lesson giver Amy.
Here is the waiver I signed:
Sue (The Horse Lady) Horse Leasing
Release and Hold Harmless
Whereas the undersigned acknowledges the inherent risks involved in riding and working around horses, which risks include bodily injury from using, riding, or being in close proximity to horses among other risks and further, that both horse and rider can be injured on normal use or in competitions and schooling. In consideration, therefore, for the privilege of taking riding lessons/working around horses with, SUE, located at Some Equestrian Center located at (address), the undersigned does hereby agree to hold harmless and indemnify SUE and further release her from any liability or responsibility for accidents, damage, injury, or illness to the undersigned or any horses owned by the undersigned or to any family member or spectator accompanying the undersigned while under the direction and instruction of SUE.
Please note if there are any pre-existing medical condition that we should be aware of prior to beginning a training program.
In case of a Medical Emergency that we are unable to contact you we will call an ambulance. Please initial if you DO NOT want us to contact one.
I signed my name, printed it, address and phone number. Everything else is blank.
Please let me know how I should proceed with this. Like I said, the horses actual owner was there and did nothing, offered no help, and the ads continue to be posted exactly as I have them pasted above. This seems to fall under negligence given these facts. I was misled, left unattended and then treated like nothing happened!
Please help and thank you,