Girl, 9, died after being kicked by a horse while on a hunt

Bonnie Armitage Image copyright SWNS
Image caption Bonnie Armitage died in April 2016 while riding with the Cotswold Hunt

A nine-year-old girl died after she was kicked in the chest by a horse while riding her Shetland pony, an inquest heard.

Bonnie Armitage was fatally injured while out with the Cotswold Hunt near Stroud, Gloucestershire, in April 2016.

Gloucestershire Coroner's Court heard Bonnie, from near Wantage, Oxfordshire, was kicked by a horse ridden by farmer Toti Gifford.

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded by the inquest jury.

Mr Gifford told the court his horse Harvey was a "gentle giant" which was experienced at hunting with hounds.

Recalling the events of 2 April last year, he said: "I was on my own and there were no horses around and I was just cantering up the side of the field and my horse went irregular.

"I didn't really feel anything, it just didn't feel right, and then I heard a yell and I looked back.

'Like a bullet'

"Seconds after, it was so quick, the horse went irregular and the little Shetland pony was really, really close, almost underneath my feet, [it] went really fast past me without a rider on.

"Then I heard a shout and I looked back and saw Bonnie.

"The first thing I knew was this little black and white pony went past me like a bullet," he said.

"I can't really remember what happened. It was just mad. I remember grabbing the horses and leading them away."

Mr Gifford said his horse may have kicked out instinctively. "It was shock or frightened or spooked," he said.

Joanna Ireland, who witnessed the accident, said Bonnie had been "perfectly" in control of her pony.

Another rider, Claire Bailey, said: "I didn't actually see the horse kick but I realised it had happened because I heard the thud of the hooves in contact with Bonnie."

Chest guard

Bonnie, who had been wearing a chest guard and helmet, was being supervised by a family friend when the accident happened.

She was taken by air ambulance to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital where she later died.

A post-mortem examination found Bonnie died from the rupture of a coronary artery - consistent with blunt force trauma to the chest.

She was a pupil at St Hugh's school in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, where her father, Nick Armitage, is the deputy head.

In a statement, her family said they wanted people to remember her as a "very special child who touched the lives of those that knew her and tragically and unexpectedly was taken far too soon doing something she loved - riding her pony".

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