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Teen dies after horse falls on her head during equestrian competition in Florida

By Sara Smart and Rebekah Riess, CNN

A 15-year-old equestrian was killed during a competition in Florida after her horse fell on her head, officials say.

The accident happened as Hannah Serfass was riding her 12-year-old horse in a hunter/jumper event Sunday at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said in a report.

The horse, a Holsteiner gelding named Quaxx, suffered a “rotational fall,” the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) said in a news release.

“The rider was about halfway through the course and had just made the # 6 jump. The horse landed the jump successfully and took 2 or 3 steps/gallops towards the next hurdle and for unknown reasons planted its left front hoof which caused the horse to lean down significantly towards its left front hoof,” the sheriff’s office report said.

Serfass and the horse then began falling in the same direction, with the horse “falling over and onto the rider’s head on the ground,” the report said.

An EMT responded immediately and Serfass was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead, the USEF release said. The horse was uninjured.

Serfass “was a very talented up-and-coming young rider” from Webster, Florida, the USEF said. “She was known for her passion for horses, her natural ability, and her work ethic.”

“She showed nothing but dedication and love to this sport,” a verified GoFundMe memorial page said of Serfass.

“We send our sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken,” Fox Lea Farm said in a statement on Facebook.

The USEF will be reviewing the accident “to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport,” it said in its release.

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