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A High Court judge has awarded a woman €52,500 damages against her neighbours for a back injury after she was knocked down by a horse which bolted from a stable. 
Mary O’Regan (66) lived next door to and was friendly with Doug and Anita McGuinness, who owned the stables and a house at Reacasla, Brosna, Co Kerry. 
The McGuinnesses had moved to another house about nine miles away in Meenkilly, Abbeyvale, Co Limerick, some years before the accident in 2014. 
As part of an arrangement in 2012, Ms O’Regan was allowed to keep her miniature ponies at Reacasla stables on the basis she would feed a Clydesdale cob and yearling owned by Mr McGuinness. 
There was a serious dispute about the terms of the arrangement and whom it was with, the court heard. 
On March 20th, 2014, Ms O’Regan said she went to the stable to feed the cob. She opened the door and the cob bolted, knocking her to the ground. 
She was unable to get up and rang her partner who arrived and got an ambulance which took her to hospital. 
She claimed, as a result of an injury to her back from the incident, she suffered back injuries which have severely compromised her mobility and require her to use crutches. 
The defendants denied the claims and issued a full defence arguing, among other things, trespass and contributory negligence. 
It was also alleged by Mr McGuinness the accident had not happened where Ms O’Regan said it had. It was further claimed Ms O’Regan collapsed at the bottom of the stairs in her own home some six weeks earlier. 
In a judgment last October, published this week, Mr Justice Bernard Barton found the defendants were negligent in common law. 
He found the cob had not been let out for exercise the day Ms O’Regan arrived to feed it or the day before. 
It was therefore reasonably foreseeable on the part of the defendants, if the cob was insufficiently exercised and/or overfed, he would eventually want to get out of his stable, he said. 
He found Ms O’Regan was not a trespasser and was party to the arrangement but was not responsible for exercising the animals. 
As a person with long experience of horses, she could have reasonably foreseen the circumstances that on opening the stable door the cob might try to get out and injure her in the process, he also held. 
She exposed herself to that risk and was guilty contributory negligence assessed at 30 per cent, the judge found. 
He awarded €75,000 but deducted €30,000 for contributory negligence, resulting in an award of €52,500. 
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