Animal charity stunned by horse fall rider’s death

Caitriona O'Leary on a charity mission in India. She died in Hailsham in June 2012 when she was thrown from her horse.
Caitriona O'Leary on a charity mission in India. She died in Hailsham in June 2012 when she was thrown from her horse.

A ‘KIND and compassionate’ woman who died at the weekend after being thrown from her horse was a dedicated fundraiser for animal charities.

The victim – Caitriona O’Leary of Tideswell Road – died at The Royal London Hospital on Saturday morning (June 2) following a riding accident in Magham Down, near Hailsham, on May 28.

The Herald understand Ms O’Leary had lived in Eastbourne for around a year and had been fundraising for the Tree Of Life For Animals charity, which is based in Hastings.

The 28-year-old completed a horse ride through India for the charity.

She was passionate about horse riding and her challenge ride in India was a massive 500kms and back again across desert terrain, rocky roads and dusty tracks on a horse called Chandra (pictured).

Kim Clarke, from the animal charity, said Ms O’Leary was an experienced horserider and explained her death had ‘stunned’ those at Tree of Life for Animals.

She said, “Caitriona was such a kind and compassionate person. She raised £550 completing a horse ride across the Rajasthani desert.

“She donated it to us so it can be put to good use when we set up our Community Animal Healthcare Worker scheme as part of our future rural development plan.

“I have also recently found out that she had sponsored two of the shelter horses – Patrick and Penny – as Christmas presents last year and was planning to volunteer at the shelter in India next year.

“Everyone from Tree Of Life For Animals is stunned by the news.”

Ms O’Leary was riding thoroughbred Mister for a 19-year-old Hailsham student, who was away at university at the time, when she suffered the fatal head injury.

It is believed Mister, a retired racehorse, bolted and Ms O’Leary was unable to control him and was thrown off.

Police and emergency services were called to the scene of the accident at Under Road just before 6pm.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said, “There were reports that a horserider, travelling east along a rural lane, had lost control when her horse become startled and started galloping at speed.”

Police are again appealing for witnesses and ask anyone who saw Ms O’Leary and her horse in the area at the time to call police on 101, quoting Operation Banton.

Pay your tributes to Ms O’Leary by emailing or by calling 414484.