A HORSERIDER wasn’t wearing a proper safety helmet when she fell and received a fatal injury, an inquest was told.

Fiona Vigar, former joint master of the Cattistock Hunt, died after an accident in Loders on January 24 this year.

The inquest at Dorset County Hall heard that Fiona had 35 years of horse riding experience, owned four horses at the time of her death and would ‘never do anything reckless’.

But she was not wearing adequate head gear and her hat had a ‘prominent’ warning inside which read ‘warning – this cap is not intended to protect against personal injury and does not comply with the relevant standards,’ coroner for Dorset Sheriff Payne said.

Recording a verdict of an accident, Mr Payne added: “She was wearing a hat, but not a crash hat or a protective form of hat and she would have been aware of that because of the prominent label inside it.”

The cap was examined by a police officer and former horse riding trainer who said it ‘was not designed to provide protection against personal injury’, the inquest heard.

The cap was made of linen, coated with a shellac-based paste to form a hard plastic and did not carry a kitemark. Speaking after the verdict, Fiona’s husband Chris said: “It shows the importance of wearing adequate safety equipment when undertaking these sports.”

The inquest was told that Fiona was riding her own horse through the main street in Loders and leading another when one of them slipped on a manhole cover and fell, taking her with it. Fiona, aged 43, was flown to Frenchay Hospital near Bristol where she underwent a five-and-a-half hour operation, but died from her injuries 17 days later. The inquest heard that Fiona had received life-threatening head injuries after another accident in 2011.

She had made a full recovery except for impaired vision in one eye, although she was certified to drive. After the inquest Mr Vigar said it was ‘extremely unlucky’ that Fiona had been the victim of two accidents.

He added: “I can only emphasise the coroner’s last words, which were that she died doing something she loved.”