Teenager sues exboyfriend’s mum for £3million after being paralysed in horse accident


Teenager sues ex

Ashleigh Harris was left paralysed in a horse-riding accident (Picture: Paul Keogh)

A teenager is suing her ex-boyfriend’s mother for £3million after she was left paralysed in a horse-riding accident.

Ashleigh Harris broke her back when she fell off Polly Perks, owned by Rachel Miller, in Malthern, near Chepstow, in 2012.

She was just 14 when the incident happened, leaving her with no function in her legs. Miss Harris said that Polly ‘misbehaved’ and broke into a canter of her own accord.

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But Mrs Miller, in her 40s, says the horse was blameless and that Ashleigh fell after losing her balance as she descended a ‘short and gentle slope’.

Mrs Miller’s son Keiran supported his mother at London’s High Court which heard Miss Harris was a competent rider.

Describing her fall, she added: ‘I had been riding for about five minutes and started trotting Polly. She then went to canter and I held her up because I didn’t ask her to.

Polly Perks, the thoroughbred mare at centre of High Court case following riding accident.....Image supplied by Paul Keogh 07914 583 378

She fell off thoroughbred mare Polly Perks (Picture: Paul Keogh)

‘She was throwing her head around and bucked, then I came out of the saddle and went over the horse’s head. I hit the floor and rolled.’

David Westcott QC said that Miss Harris was not experienced and had only ridden ponies previously.

He said: ‘Ashleigh should never have been permitted to ride Polly in an open field on that day.

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‘Even putting on one side the many indications that Polly was not going to be easy to ride, there was an obvious chance that the horse would be too big and strong for her to handle.

‘The risk was that Ashleigh would fall and suffer serious injury, and that is exactly what happened.’

Mrs Miller disputes Ashleigh’s version of events, and said the teenager tumbled off Polly as she was riding her at a walking pace down a hill in the field.

Rachel Miller, who is being sued by Ashleigh Harris after horse riding accident, outside High Court in London, October 18, 2016.....Image by Paul Keogh 07914 583 378

The horse’s owner Rachel Miller is being sued for £3million (Picture: Paul Keogh)

She also said she had spoken to the teenager’s mother before letting her ride the mare, and believed Ashleigh was a more experienced rider.

‘I had spoken to her mum and she was happy for her to come riding,’ she said. ‘I also had a conversation on the phone with her before and she said it was ok.

‘I didn’t know a lot about horses, but I knew how Polly looked and she looked good. I believed that Ashleigh had more experience, she had more experience than I did.’

Winston Hunter QC, for Mrs Miller, said: ‘Ashleigh gave Kieran an impression that she was indeed a competent rider.

‘He had seen her gallop on her pony, Beauty, and she rode Beauty bare back. It’s not age that matters, it’s experience.’

Judge Graham Wood QC asked: ‘She may have been trying to impress her boyfriend with her riding skills? There’s a cachet in that’.

But Mr Hunter responded: ‘There’s no evidence Mrs Miller was aware that she had only ridden ponies

‘Ashleigh was a competent novice, someone who would have been able to ride Polly, to walk, trot or indeed canter’.

Judge Wood will give his ruling on Ashleigh’s claim at a later date.