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Inquest hears of horse Dargo's fatal form after student Sarah Waugh's death

Amy Dale, Daily Telegraph

June 8, 2011 12:00 am

A STUDENT fell twice from a former racehorse just a fortnight before another teenager died while riding the same horse as part of her TAFE training course, an inquest heard yesterday.

Sarah Waugh, an aspiring rural vet from Newcastle, died from head and neck injuries suffered in a fall from a thoroughbred named Dargo during a jillaroo course at Dubbo's TAFE campus on March 24, 2009.

Former TAFE student Lucy Piec yesterday told an inquest into the 18-year-old's death of the two falls she had from Dargo when the horse "bolted" unexpectedly.

Her "scary" encounter with the horse was about two weeks before Ms Waugh died, the court heard.

The inquest at Glebe Coroner's Court has been told that Dargo, under the name Snakey Thought, raced on a track at Binnaway on February 7, six weeks before Ms Waugh's death.

Glenn Manton, who supplied the horse to the TAFE for use in the beginners' course, said he had "prided himself" on providing horses that were suitable for the student rider's experience.

"Their temperament is the main thing, you don't want them too highly strung or nervy," he said.

Mr Manton, who didn't give evidence about Dargo, said he wouldn't put any child on a horse that he believed wasn't suitable.

Ms Piec told the court she rode Dargo, a four-year-old gelding, only once during lessons in the five-week riding course and hadn't wanted to ride him again. She said she opted to ride Dargo a few weeks into the course "to mix things up" from the older and slower horse she had been riding, but soon felt scared after Dargo "bolted" shortly after she mounted.

"I pulled on the reins, I tried to stop him but it didn't work ... I jumped off him and landed on my feet," she said. She said TAFE teacher Sara Falkiner instructed her to get back on Dargo, but almost as soon as she mounted he bolted again.

"It was a lot scarier than the first time, it looked like he was going to try to jump the fence ... he was very strong," she said.

Ms Piec fell off the horse and hit her head on a railing.

She did mount Dargo a third time under Ms Falkiner's supervision but dismounted after the horse began to take off again.

"I wanted to get off it and I didn't want to ride it again," she told the inquest.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Donna Ward, said the inquest should examine whether measures need to be implemented in the presently "unregulated" recreational riding industry. The inquest before Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund continues.

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