SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - She was 73 years old and was game to try anything new.
This time it was horse-riding.
It was her first time in the saddle — and, unfortunately, it turned out to be her last.
Rider too light to pull horse down
A woman weighing less than 65kg could not possibly pull down a 550kg horse, said International Equestrian Federation vet Roshni Selvam.She was referring to the accident at Punggol Ranch on Saturday, where a horse had fallen on 73-year-old Lim Ah Boey while she was trying to dismount, pinning her down for about 10 minutes before it stood up.
Madam Lim died from her injuries later at the hospital.
In a statement, Gallop Stable, which runs the Punggol Ranch, said the woman had panicked while dismounting, causing the horse to become agitated and raise its front legs. The woman lost her balance and “dragged the horse down with her”.
Dr Roshni said there is “no way a woman of her physical stature” would be able to drag a horse down.
“The horse could have slipped,” she added.
Witnesses said the horse appeared to have slipped and fell on the victim.
Witnesses and Madam Lim’s family members said the horse had reared before Madam Lim fell.
Dr Roshni also said that horses do not rear unless spooked, out of fear or provoked, “such as being whipped several times and hard on the rump”.
“Also, there should have been more handlers around, especially when most people there are riding horses for the first time,” she added.
Citing the Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore as an example, Dr Roshni said: “Often there is one handler leading the horse and a volunteer on either side of the disabled child for safety. There should be the same protocol here.”
After Mr Ng posted about the incident on his Facebook wall on Sunday, a friend commented, claiming a similar incident happened at Punggol Ranch a month earlier.
The marketing manager, who wanted to be known only as Miss Chen, 29, said she was there with her 17-year-old sister to celebrate a cousin’s birthday.
“My sister was the last rider for the day,” she told The New Paper.
“I felt that the horse was not right. It seemed tired and agitated but since the handler assured us it was okay, we went ahead. I decided to walk beside them, just to be sure.
“Then, it suddenly reared and even the handler, who was rather young, was shocked. It was a good thing it didn’t throw my sister off.”
Madam Lim Ah Boey fell from the horse she was riding and was pinned down by the animal for about 10 minutes.
She lost consciousness and was rushed to hospital, where she died of her injuries.
The accident happened at Punggol Ranch on Saturday.
It was to have been her grandson’s 21st birthday. Madam Lim and her family of 10 had gone to the Gallop Stable chalets for a staycation to celebrate in a big way.
Granddaughter Low Qin Qing, 28, said she was there with her mother when the incident happened.
“There was only one horse handler there and he was holding onto the horse,” Ms Low told The New Paper at the wake in Yishun Avenue 2 yesterday.
“It was my mother who had to help my grandmother into the saddle.
“When it came to the dismount, the horse refused to approach the steps to allow my grandmother to dismount.
“It was going round and round, and the handler hit the rear of the horse several times to get it to go to the steps.”
That was when the horse reared — stood on its hind legs, she added.
“My mother shouted for my grandmother to hold on tightly and within seconds, the accident happened,” added the administration executive.
Madam Lim fell off the horse and it fell on top of her, pinning her down.
Her grandson-in-law, Lifewire venue manager Timothy Ng, 33, said the horse could not get up because of the cement border near the steps where riders dismount and Madam Boey was pinned under it “for about 10 minutes”.
Ms Low said her grandmother was still conscious and in pain. She and her mother tried to keep her grandmother calm while workers from the Punggol Ranch rushed in to heave the horse off the elderly woman.
“We called the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) while this was going on,” said Mr Ng.
“Once my grandmother was freed, my cousin started administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) under the instructions of SCDF over the phone.”
SCDF said it received a call at 5.56pm that a woman was pinned under a horse at Gallop Stable’s Punggol Ranch and sent an ambulance to the scene.
CPR efforts were ongoing when SCDF officers arrived. SCDF paramedics took over the CPR.
The victim was taken to Changi General Hospital unconscious. She did not survive her injuries.
Visibly shaken by the incident, Madam Lim’s husband and the grandson who was celebrating his birthday that fateful day have become rather quiet.
“They are at a loss for words,” said Ms Low.
She and Mr Ng were keen to know about the safety measures in place at Punggol Ranch to ensure that the public are protected from any possible mishaps.
Past incidents at Gallop Stable
A horse called Peanut lunged and bit customer service executive Meryl Yeo, then 23, on the right breast.
She was at Gallop Stable at Pasir Ris Park with her fiance and had bought a packet of horse feed to feed the two ponies there, Peanut and her foal.
The bite left a wound on her chest and Miss Yeo had to see a doctor. She was given a tetanus jab and a day’s medical leave.
Andre Pung, then seven, was waiting for his father to pay for his younger sister’s pony ride at Gallop Stable at Horsecity in Bukit Timah, when the pony bit him on the shoulder without any provocation, leaving a red mark.
The manager, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Shankar, said it was the first time such an incident had happened.
Andre was later given a course of oral antibiotics and antibiotic cream at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Three horses escaped from Gallop Stable at Pasir Ris Park and were seen galloping on Pasir Ris Drive 3.
Operations manager Maneesha Shanker said the horses escaped because the ropes at the stables had come loose.
The ropes have since been made tighter and a higher barricade has been built to ensure the horses would not escape.
“There shouldn’t be just one handler to one horse, not when riders are not trained to ride,” said Mr Ng.
“We were not even briefed on safety and what to look out for before we started riding. We were also not made to sign an indemnity form.”
He added that he returned to the stables later that night after Madam Lim died and asked where the horses came from.
“I was told by a worker there that they were from Turf Club,” he said. “I’m now wondering if they were retired race horses. If so, should they be ridden by the untrained public?”
Said Ms Low: “I don’t blame the horse. We love horses, that was why we went there in the first place.”
“I hope the story of my grandmother’s death will create awareness on the safety precautions the stables should be taking and the public know what steps they have to take before getting on a horse.”
Gallop Stable owners Shanker R. and his wife Mani Shanker could not be reached for comment.