15-year-old girl dies after horse falls on her during equestrian competition

A teenager has tragically passed away after the horse she was riding at an equestrian event fell on top of her.

Hannah Serfass was riding a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding at the Fox Lea Farm Spring Concours event on Sunday (April 30), as reported by CBS News.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the 15-year-old girl had just successfully landed the number six jump when the horse galloped towards the next hurdle.

The Holsteiner stumbled on its left front hoof and inclined forward which caused Serfass to fall. It then plunged on top of the teenager and fatally crushed her.

“This action caused the rider to then topple forward and off the horse in the same direction and onto the ground,” the report said, as cited by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “The horse then continued to fall in the same direction falling over and onto the rider’s head on the ground.”

Fox Lea Farm personnel rushed to the Floridan teen to administrate first aid, until Sarasota County Fire Rescue responded. She was then transported to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Venice campus, where she was later pronounced dead.

Federation spokeswoman Vicki Lowell spoke about the devastating tragedy in a press release, via the outlet, and said: “The Federation takes every accident very seriously and will be reviewing the accident thoroughly to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.”

Fox Lea also shared a heartbreaking tribute statement to Facebook on Monday (May 1) afternoon which read: “Fox Lea Farm had a tragedy occur today. Out of respect to the family, no information will be shared at this time. We send our sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken.”

Per US Equestrian, Serfass was described as a gifted up-and-coming young rider who trained with Robin Swinderman. She was known for her passion for her natural ability, horses, and her work ethic.

She rode the complete winter 2022 circuit at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala and contested in Michigan. In addition to this, a March 2023 profile by Ben Baugh in World Equestrian Center Magazine praised her “coachability, focus, discipline, talent”.

Furthermore, Serfass’ mother Janine Surfas revealed to World Equestrian Center Magazine that her daughter competed in gymnastics until fourth grade and then changed to riding and showing horses. She also ran track and cross country at Wildwood Middle School.

Our thoughts are with Serfass’ family and friends at this time.



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