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A teenage equestrian dies after a horse falls on top of her during competition

A teenage girl, described as “a very talented up-and-coming young rider”, died during an equestrian competition in Florida last weekend when the horse she was riding fell on top of her.

On Saturday, 15-year-old Hannah Serfass was participating in a jumping competition at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, Fla., along the state’s west coast between Tampa and Fort Myers. Hannah and her horse, a 12-year-old Holsteiner named Quaxx 2, were halfway through the course when Quaxx 2 suddenly stumbled a few steps after landing the sixth jump. Quaxx 2 then suffered a “spinning fall”, causing Hannah to fall forward to the ground.

Unfortunately, after Hannah landed, Quaxx 2 landed on her head as onlookers looked on in horror. An EMT near the course quickly rendered aid to Hannah, and she was transported to Sarasota Memorial a short time later, but the quick response was not enough to save her. She was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Quaxx 2’s fall was “unrelated to a jumping effort” and the horse was not injured in the incident, a statement from the United States Equestrian Federation confirmed.

“The team at USEF, USHJA and Fox Lea Farm would like to extend our deepest condolences to Hannah’s family, support team and friends,” the statement continued.

Fox Lea Farm issued its own brief statement on Facebook: “Fox Lea Farm has experienced a tragedy today. Out of respect for the family, no information will be shared at this time. We send our deepest condolences to the family, Coach, friends, and the entire equestrian community. We are all heartbroken.”

At just 15, Hannah was already an accomplished rider. In 2021, he won the Hamel National Horse Show 3’3 medal at the Florida State Fairgrounds. World Equestrian Center magazine also recently ran a story on her, claiming she was on a “meteorological rise” in the sport.

In addition to riding, Hannah ran track for Wildwood Middle High School in Wildwood, Florida, about two and a half hours northeast of Venice, but did not go to school there. Instead, the sophomore was homeschooled. “She was known for her passion for horses, her natural ability and her work ethic,” the USEF statement added.

The USEF said it is still investigating the incident “to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.”

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