Social Navigation

Teenage equestrian dies after horse knocked her down and fell on top of her during competition


A 15-year-old horsewoman was killed Sunday at a competition in Florida after a horse knocked her down and then fell on her head.

Hannah Serfass was competing in Fox Lea Farm’s Spring Concours I in Venice, about 70 miles from Tampa, when “the horse tripped and suffered a spinning fall,” the U.S. Equestrian Federation said in a statement.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said the teenager was competing in a jumping event and was halfway through the course when she attempted the sixth jump.

“The horse successfully jumped and took two or three steps/canters towards the next obstacle and for unknown reasons planted his left foot causing the horse to lean significantly towards his left front hoof,” authorities said.

“This action caused the rider to rock forward and down the horse in the same direction and onto the ground,” the sheriff’s office said. “The horse then continued to fall in the same direction falling over the rider’s head to the ground.”

The federation said the fall was “not related to a jumping effort”.

Fox Lea Farm staff rushed to Serfass’ aid until deputies arrived. The teenager was taken to hospital and pronounced dead. The horse she was riding, Quaxx 2, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, was uninjured.

Serfass, of Webster, Fla., was described as an up-and-coming talented rider. The federation said she was known for her love of horses and her work ethic.

Fox Lea Farm said in a statement that it sends its “sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends and the entire equestrian community. We are all heartbroken.”

The accident will be examined by the federation “to find out what we can do to minimize the risks and increase safety in equestrian sports”, he said.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.