A retired engineer and grandfather from Cromer died after falling from his horse and hitting his head, an inquest has heard.

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A retired engineer and grandfather from Cromer died after falling from his horse and hitting his head, an inquest has heard.

Anthony Golding, 72, suffered serious head injuries and died two days after the incident which happened while riding with staff from Fern Bank Riding School, where he was taking lessons.

At an inquest in Norwich yesterday, Norfolk coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of accidental death but called for an examination of how riding schools are licensed following the tragedy.

Fern Bank Riding School’s licence with North Norfolk District Council had expired in July 2011, five months before the accident in December, and though it was renewed in February 2012, Mr Armstrong said it was “not satisfactory” it had been unlicensed for so long while paperwork was processed.

He asked the district council to examine the procedure for licensing and assessing such establishments, and also raised the issue of documented risk assessments.

Current guidance says that businesses with fewer than five employees are not legally required to keep documentation – something which needs to be looked at by central government, said Mr Armstrong.

“Horse riding is a dangerous sport and legislation must be there to protect people,” he said, adding that neither issue had a bearing on Mr Golding’s death.

Mr Golding, of Albany Court, had taken up horse riding after retiring to Cromer with his wife Sally, and had been visiting Fern Bank twice weekly since April 2008, where he was described by staff as a “competent” rider who cared for the horses he rode.

On December 13 last year, Mr Golding was accompanied by Amy Fabb, wife of co-proprietor Ben Fabb, and volunteer Natasha Hindley, on a regular route along Carr Lane and Roughton Road. The three were leaving the road to follow a path into woods when Mr Golding’s horse overtook the lead rider on a short uphill stretch.

As it approached a tree, the horse veered right and Mr Golding tried to guide the horse left but fell against the tree, banging his head as he fell to the ground.

Mrs Fabb said the accident happened “in seconds”, adding: “His horse wanted to go to the right, he was standing in his stirrups and he lost balance and he went to the left. The tree got in his way and he fell against it.”

Mr Golding was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where a CT scan revealed a subdural haemorrhage. After discussion with neurosurgeons at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge it became clear Mr Golding would not recover and he died on December 15.

Neville Golding, Mr Golding’s son, said he was satisfied that the coroner’s recommendations addressed his family’s concerns.

He added: “The truth is that horse riding is a dangerous sport and if what happens after today helps to keep people safer that can only be a good thing.”

North Norfolk District Council’s licensing manager Chris Cawley said the licensing dealt primarily with animal welfare rather than public safety, but added: “We will certainly look at [the coroner’s comments] and if there’s anything we can do to tighten up our procedures from the standpoint of the law then we will.”

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