Nine-Year-Old Amish Girl Loses Life In “Horse Training Accident”

Report of a tragic loss in Lancaster County. Warning, this one is hard to read about. From Fox 56:

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHP) — A 9-year-old Amish girl has died after an accident that led to multiple serious injuries on Tuesday.

The unnamed child, who lived in Kinzers, was caught in the reins of of her horse that was then “suddenly spooked during training,” according to the coroner’s report.

She was then transported to Lancaster General Hospital where, despite resuscitation efforts, she passed away from her injuries at around 11:35 a.m.

The girl was reportedly dragged a quarter mile. Apparently the girl had been training the horse. I don’t know what that means in this context exactly.

Young Amish children are regularly around animals which are 10 or 20 times their size. It’s part of growing up in Amish society with its horse culture, and particularly if you’re on a farm.

An Amish boy tugging the bridle of a horse
Amish children regularly deal with animals many times their size. Image: Don Shenk

Details are scarce here, but this is described as a “horse training accident”. I’d assume the child was taking part in training which was being done by an Amish adult. I’d assume a parent was in charge here and she was not unsupervised. Though if a horse was spooked and someone dragged such a distance, it might not make much difference if the victim were a child or an adult.

A horrible happening. I don’t want to say much more than that. I believe Amish life by its nature is, in some ways, more dangerous than non-Amish life. Risk of accidents involving animals is one way it is more dangerous, and this is one sad example of that.

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    1. Stacy

      Farm Life

      I think Farm Life in general is more inherently dangerous than the urban or suburban lifestyle, be it Amish or English. Tragic accidents happen sometimes on farms. I’m sure there will be a barrage of comments regarding safety and letting a 9 year old work with training a horse, but as an English, my kids also did the same thing with our horses. The only back seat comment I would make is probably should have been in a round pen or secure paddock, but hindsight….. Such a sad story. The rewards of farm life that children gain, far outweigh the negatives in my opinion still. Prays for the family.

    2. Tragedy

      So heartbreaking. My heart and sorrow goes out to family. I wondered if been safer for a child to be training a mini horse instead of large horse. They can be so overpowering. I noticed a photo showing a young boy leading a large horse. First of all he’s barefoot. Not using safety around horses. Also leading by the halter and not a rope and the way he’s leading directly in front of the horse where if this horse spooked he be ran over. Again another incident to happen. Are these children being taught safety around or training horses.
      I wonder how this little 9 year old was holding the reins and if the training being done in small arena and perhaps the adult who supervising should of had some kind of lead line especially if this was a training course.
      Sending prayers to family and friends.

    3. tom

      i had people at her viewing she had the rope wrapped around her hand or arm and the horse got spoked and dragged her that is what they told me

    4. Guy in Ohio


      This is very tragic. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and the community. Horses are big, strong animals that can be hard to control. Just last week an Amish teenager here in Ohio died after he lost control of his horse and the buggy he was in collided with the side of a moving train. All so very tragic. Erik, I emailed you a link to the Ohio story.

    5. Dolores

      Equine dangers

      Living with horses is inherently dangerous. They are, by nature, prey animals that are fine tuned to the “fight or flight” instinct. Amish grow up with this and accept the risks. Horse owners learn this and accept the risks…it’s just what you do to do what you love/believe.
      It is tragic to lose a life, let alone such a young one, but I don’t fault the Amish nor any adult that may/may not have been supervising…it’s the nature of the beast.
      Those English (city slickers) that feel the need to live in the country ALSO need to learn that your actions can influence a dangerous response from livestock (not just horses!!). I have neighbors that insist they need to shoot off fireworks this July 4th…right over my horses pasture!!
      Fireworks and livestock DO NOT MIX!!!
      This can cause seizures, heart attacks, hearing loss, stampede and a multitude of other potential injuries to nearby horses, cattle, goats, deer, etc.
      If you need to see fireworks, I’m sure your local municipality will have a display!

    6. Kathy H.

      Dragged by horse

      Many years ago, as a teenager, I was leading my horse down the road back to the barn. I was walking on the road, not riding, holding onto the reins to lead her. She suddenly started running toward the barn. (Other people would ride my horse with a group, and they would race them back toward the barn, teaching them this bad habit, but I didn’t know that at the time.) As my horse started running, I was pulled forward, falling onto the tar-and-gravel road. She dragged me until I let go of the reins (which I did soon!). My knees were banged up, unstable for walking for a few days, and my hands were messed up, including having some tiny stones in them, and if I hadn’t been wearing my adjustable helmet (meaning that it was slightly larger than my head size, with adjustable straps on the inside), one side of my face would have been damaged. The drag was short-lived, but I was damaged and injured. (I did recover.)
      A nine-year-old girl doesn’t think like an adult (or teenager), and being trapped by the reins is worse than my situation where I could let go of them, and being dragged for a quarter-mile is much, much farther than in my situation. Based on my own experience, I can see how she might not have survived.
      I am so sorry for the family.

    7. Cheryl Reed

      I’ve thought of the poor little Amish girl that lost her life training the horse. My heart is broken. I’m sure she is on God’s arms. Please her soul. Condolences to her family. So tragic.