A transportation firm has been ordered to pay more than £13,000 after a showjumping horse was injured when it escaped from a lorry aboard a ferry.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard last week that the horse, called Farco, was returning to Ayrshire after a shoeing review in Northern Ireland

Due to injuries sustained when the horse got free on the ferry, its value was reduced from £12,000 to zero.

Owner Derek Rankine, whose daughter rode Farco at showjumping events across Ayrshire, took the horse transport company BG Craig, a partnership trading as Willie Craig Transporters, to court.

According to the Scottish Legal News website, the case came before Sheriff George Jamieson at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. 

The court heard that while Farco was aboard a ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan in 2017, he escaped from his stall on the transport lorry and was seriously injured.

As a result of these injuries the pursuer incurred £1391.83 of vet bills and Farco could no longer compete in equestrian events.

Farco’s value immediately before the accident was assessed by the sheriff as £12,000, on the basis of expert evidence.

Mr Rankine contended that Farco’s value after the accident was zero, as he was a gelding and could not be used to breed.

The defenders insisted the transport lorry met industry standards and all reasonable precautions had been taken to avoid injury and suffering to the horse.

Additionally, Farco had an "inherent vice" - a phobia of being placed in the rear of a horse transporter that the defenders were not informed of by the pursuer.

According to Scottish Legal News, Sheriff Jamieson said: “It is true that Farco must have slipped or fell when he broke loose from his stall, but the slip was not the immediate cause of his injuries. Those were associated with him breaking free from his stall.”

Turning to the evidence on Farco’s ties, Sheriff Jamieson said: “The simple fact is that the ties broke during normal transport conditions and the defenders have not led evidence to prove that they did not do so on account of age, wear, or any other defect.

"In these circumstances, I accept Mr McShane’s submission that the defenders have failed to discharge the onus on them to prove there was no breach by them of Article 6(3) of Regulation 1/2005.”

Assessing the evidence on inherent vice, the sheriff added: “I am faced with the situation where I do not find either witness credible or reliable on this point. The onus of proof is on the defender in this matter and, as it has not been discharged, I cannot find it established that Farco had an inherent vice.”

The sheriff concluded: “Both experts and counsel agreed that Farco had no commercial value after the accident. He could not be used for show jumping purposes, and he had no residual value as he could not breed or enter the human food chain. The difference between the pre-accident and post-accident values of Farco was therefore £12,000.”

The sheriff therefore found the defenders liable to the pursuer for the sum of £13,1391.83, being the cost of vet bills plus the loss in value, with interest to be determined by the court and a hearing fixed to determine the issue of joint liability.