Man Left Disabled After Falling From Horse Spooked By Dog Sues Pet's Owner For £5m
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A man is suing the owner of a Westie terrier for £5 million ($6.1 million) after the dog spooked his horse and he was thrown to the ground, sustaining a 'catastrophic' injury.
Lourens Koetsier suffered a severe spinal chord injury while on holiday in Wales in June 2018.
The Dutch financial adviser was taking part in a guide-led canter on Druidston beach in Pembrokeshire when the unleashed Westie, named Max, ran underneath the horse and spooked it.
The 63-year-old is an experienced rider, and speaking in High Court in London, his lawyer, Matthew Chapman QC, said Koetsier had the horse, Bonfire, under control until that point.
He said: "Bonfire [Mr Koetsier’s horse] was stationary when the same small white dog went underneath him from behind and behind the claimant.
"The claimant is an experienced rider and had, up until the point when he was thrown, been able to control and manage Bonfire during the course of the ride."
Koetsier was rushed to hospital by air ambulance, having sustained a central spinal cord injury.
"The claimant landed on or about the top of his head and suffered catastrophic personal injury," Chapman added.
He now experiences spasms and has impaired hand function, while his ability to care for himself, get around and work have been 'substantially impaired'.
He also uses a wheelchair outside – although he can walk short distances with a walking frame – and his home has had to be specially adapted for his needs.
Chapman claims there wouldn't have been an accident if Max’s owner, David Clifford Thomas, had him under control.
Thomas said there was no need to blame his 'small, elderly and gentle' Westie for the accident, with his lawyers insisting that local bylaws permit people to let their dogs run freely on the beach.
Andrew Arentsen, Thomas's lawyer, said Druidston beach is 'precisely the type of location where dog owners can reasonably allow their dogs to run without restraint'.
He said that Max had initially only a 'mild interest' in the horses that day, and it ran after them 'out of a sense of fun' when they cantered a second time.
He added that Max immediately returned to Thomas after the fall and was 'not disobedient or out of control'.
The case reached court last week for a preparatory hearing ahead of a full trial of the claim at a later date.