Ashleigh Harris, now 18, broke her back after falling in a field near Chepstow, a town in Monmouthshire in Wales, in 2012. She was on a picnic with her boyfriend’s family. She was encouraged to have a ride on the horse named Polly Perks, a powerful thoroughbred ex-racehorse which belonged to her boyfriend Kieran’s mother. while doing this, She had a terrible accident.
According to the Dailymail UK , she said after the accident: “My toes went dead and then the numbness ran slowly up my body. Everyone was telling me that everything would be all right, but I knew then that something really bad had happened”.
She is now paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her entire life. Her mother told of how difficult life was for her after the final surgery in Stoke: ‘It was a very difficult time; she was angry at the whole world.’
After incident, the relationship between her and former boyfriend, Kieran, suffered a break up. She said, “we messaged each other for a while but, gradually, it petered out.’
The catastrophic incident led to an extraordinary £3 million legal battle at the High Court in London.
She had to face Kieran in court last month. He testified that Ashleigh rode on the horse without his mother’s permission. The court rejected the evidence.
In a decision which could lead the family of her former boyfriend into financial destitution, the court has ruled that Ashleigh is entitled to full compensation from 43-year-old mother-of-three, Rachel Miller, the owner of the badly-trained horse.
Ashleigh justified her claim: ‘If your car was damaged in an accident because of someone else, you would want compensation. I have a lifetime of this ahead of me. If anything happens to my parents, I’ll be on my own.’
‘I’m sure the Millers wished it hadn’t happened as well. I hope they understand why I had to do this. I am going to have to live with this for the rest of my life.’
After the case, the British Horse Society says it has been receiving calls from horse owners concerning insurance. According to the charity’s membership director, Emma Day: ‘this is a tragic accident and it highlights some key elements that all riders should be reminded of’.