A teenage girl, described as "a very talented up-and-coming young rider," died during an equestrian competition in Florida last weekend when the horse she was riding fell on top of her.
On Saturday, 15-year-old Hannah Serfass was participating in a jumping competition at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, Florida, along the western coast of the state between Tampa and Fort Myers. Hannah and her horse — a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding named Quaxx 2 — were about halfway through the course when Quaxx 2 suddenly stumbled a few steps after landing the sixth jump. Quaxx 2 then suffered "a rotational fall," causing Hannah to topple forward onto the ground.
Sadly, after Hannah landed, Quaxx 2 fell on top of her head while spectators watched in horror. An EMT near the course quickly rendered Hannah aid, and she was soon afterward transported to Sarasota Memorial, but the quick response was not enough to save her. She was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Quaxx 2's fall was "unrelated to a jumping effort," and the horse was not injured in the incident, a statement from the U.S. Equestrian Federation confirmed.
"The USEF, USHJA, and Fox Lea Farm team wish to extend our deepest condolences to Hannah’s family, support team, and friends," the statement continued.
Fox Lea Farm issued its own brief statement on Facebook: "Fox Lea Farm had a tragedy occur today. Out of respect to the family, no information will be shared at this time. We send our sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken."
At just 15, Hannah was already an accomplished rider. In 2021, she won the Hamel National Horse Show 3’3 Medal at the Florida State Fairgrounds. World Equestrian Center magazine also recently did a feature story on her, claiming she was on a "meteoric rise" in the sport.
In addition to horse riding, Hannah ran track for Wildwood Middle High School in Wildwood, Florida, about two and a half hours northeast of Venice, but she did not go to school there. Instead, the sophomore was homeschooled. "She was known for her passion for horses, her natural ability, and her work ethic," the USEF statement added.
The USEF said it is still investigating the incident "to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport."
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