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Horse's history questioned at jillaroo inquest

By Nastasia Campanella

Posted Monday 19 December 2011 at 4:10 pm,

updated Tuesday 20 December 2011 at 6:49 am

An inquest has heard the head of a jillaroo course failed to adequately assess the history of a horse which threw a Newcastle teenager to her death.

Sarah Waugh was studying to be a jillaroo at a TAFE college in Dubbo in 2009. The 18-year-old was riding a horse named Dargo when she fell and was killed.

The horse was fresh off the racetrack and the course has since been suspended.

An inquest into Ms Waugh's death resumed at Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney today

Geoff Bastian, the head of Dubbo TAFE's Agricultural department, took the stand.

He told the inquest he was only informed by Work Cover that Dargo was a former racehorse after the student's death.

He said he did not know the age, breed, sex or history of Dargo and other new horses bought to the TAFE.

The court heard there was no assessment of the horses when they arrived at the TAFE and that students jumped on them straight away.

The inquest, lead by deputy state coroner Sharon Fruend, also heard the laneway at the TAFE was similar to a race track.

The court heard Mr Bastian had personal experience riding horses but had no formal qualifications to prove his riding ability.

Mr Bastian told the court the course outline is a poorly-written document which lists more components than the school had time to cover.

When council assisting, Donna Ward, suggested it was impossible for students to complete more than 700 hours of work in eight weeks, Mr Bastian replied: "Yes."

When the inquest initially started five months ago, it was heard that Ms Waugh had very limited riding experience when she first took the reins.

Her mother Juliana Waugh told the court she remembered her daughter describing Dargo as "difficult".

The court heard that just before she fell, Ms Waugh was asked to slow and turn Dargo around, but the horse instead accelerated.

The court also heard Ms Waugh was not aware Dargo was a former racehorse or that the horse had raced as recently as two weeks before her death.

The inquest has previously heard from a teenager who said she was lucky to escape serious injury when she fell from the same horse that killed Ms Waugh, as well as another student who described the horse as quiet and safe.

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