Singapore

Death of grandmother crushed by horse a 'tragic misadventure'

Horse that crushed woman became agitated because it was hit, pulled and not fed

After several attempts to help an elderly woman dismount a horse failed, the animal became agitated and reared suddenly.

The nine-year-old thoroughbred gelding, Goku, threw her off its back before pinning her under its 450kg weight, a coroner's court heard.

The horse had not been fed and had worked for more than four hours on Nov 14, 2015, when the incident happened at Gallop Stable's Punggol Ranch. Madam Lim Ah Boey, 73, who was pinned for less than 10 minutes, died in hospital from multiple injuries.

The court heard that the incident may have been triggered by event manager Wan Jasma Zuraini Wan Jalani slapping the horse.

She did so after her colleague, Malaysian dairy farm worker Brian Tan Soon Loong, made four unsuccessful attempts to help Madam Lim dismount.

The inquiry heard that Madam Lim, her family and friends had been at the ranch to celebrate her grandson's 21st birthday. Sometime after 5.30pm, Madam Lim mounted the horse and was joined by her granddaughter on another horse. After a short walk around the riding track, Mr Tan led Goku to the mounting block but the horse was too far away for Madam Lim to dismount.

STRIKE

Ms Serene Chia, a friend of Madam Lim's granddaughter, saw Mr Tan and Ms Jasma trying to pull the horse by the reins towards the mounting block. She also saw Ms Jasma strike its rear, but it still refused to move to the mounting block.

Mr Tan and Ms Jasma then walked Goku to an arena about 20m away, but it suddenly raised its front legs twice, causing the accident.

In his findings yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said a combination of stressors such as not having been fed its afternoon meal, being hit on the rear and pulled by the reins, would have led to Goku becoming agitated and caused its rearing.

Gallop Stable has since made changes to the way it operates the rides. It now uses portable mounting platforms instead of permanent brick mounts. It has also implemented a two-person system for joyrides, and the compulsory use of a "neck-strap" or halter to give the handler greater ability to control and guide the horse.

"Developing well-thought through procedures and processes, which are in tandem with those adopted by established international horse and riding societies, would be integral to ensuring the safety of joyride customers, many of whom may have little prior experience in riding a horse, and not be attuned to an animal's temperamental shifts...," said Coroner Bay.

He said Madam Lim's demise was a "truly tragic misadventure".

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