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May. 24, 2022 | Tuesday
Local News
Horse and driver safe after carriage mishap
Ethan, a Sentineal Carriages horse, took a tumble last Saturday afternoon. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

All parties are doing well after a horse carriage incident in Niagara-on-the-Lake last Saturday which saw a carriage driver kicked multiple times and a horse trip and fall.

It all happened in about 15 minutes, says Laura Sentineal, who operates the carriage business with her husband Fred. A shaft broke on the right side of the carriage, causing the horse to veer right around the corner, resulting in the carriage striking a parked vehicle and the horse eventually tripping on the curb and falling to the grass.

“When the shaft broke it pulled to the right, and that’s why the horse turned, because it thought all the pressure was on its right hand side so it wanted to go right,” Sentineal said.

“It was just this crazy alignment of circumstances.”

She isn’t sure how the shaft broke.

“It was really weird. Where it broke it’s steel,” she said. She also noted the carriage company has already started to investigate how to make sure it never happens again.

“Whenever you have something happen like this, you’ve got to start at square one and go through everything. We’ve just to review everything and do whatever humanly possible that we can do to prevent this from happening again,” she said.

The carriages get checked over every time they’re used, she said, and they go in for regular maintenance.

“Sort of just like maintenance on a car,” she said.

She’s just happy nobody was hurt.

“The horse is fine,” Sentineal said, noting he’s seen a vet since to be sure.

In the rare cases when a horse falls to the ground, she said the carriage company’s policy is to keep the horse calm and on the ground until someone arrives to assess its condition.

“As far as procedure and emergency protocol goes, it all went very smoothly. You know, you plan and prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. And 99 per cent of the time it’s the best, but (that) night it wasn’t.”

It’s not something the company is loving right now with the recent attention from animal rights activists, but has a relatively positive outlook.

People have been “wonderful” she said. “You know, they get it — stuff happens beyond your control once in a while. I saw somebody whip open a car door the other day right in front of a bike, and the bike just missed getting doored. You know, stupid things happen all the time, and the only way to stay 100 per cent safe is to wrap yourself in bubblewrap and never leave your house. And even then something could happen. But you know, 30 years of doing this, this is a pretty exceptional occurrence. We’re happy it all got dealt with quickly and efficiently and that everybody is OK.”

She said the company is also taking care of the damages to the vehicle. The couple that owns the car was checking into the Prince of Wales Hotel at the time of the accident.

Ironically, they have been frequent customers of the carriage service over the years, Sentineal said. So on top of offering to pay the damages she gave them free rides for life.

“For life, yeah” she chuckled. “You know what, they were so nice and understanding. They were just concerned about the horse and the driver. They were really sweet.”

Fire fighters, ambulance and police vehicles all attended the scene.

The carriage driver, Abby Moran, was sent to the hospital for examination after the incident and released later that night with minor injuries.

Moran was unable to speak with the paper before press time, but is doing well, said Sentineal.

The horse, Ethan, was taken to a vet. Sentineal says he is “completely fine.”