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Suit: Girl’s runaway barrel-racing horse caused woman’s death

SANTA FE — The family of a Farmington woman is suing the organizers of barrel racing competitions, alleging that negligence led to her fatal brain injuries caused by a runaway horse.

The lawsuit maintains that despite the “obvious danger” posed by a 7-year-old girl and her horse named Truck, they were allowed to participate in a barrel racing competition in Farmington on Feb. 2.

The girl “had a demonstrated history of not being able to control her horse,” the suit says.

After the girl and Truck completed the racing course, the girl lost control of the horse, which ran out of the arena at McGee Park with the girl “barely” holding on.

Truck ran into two other horses, including one that 28-year-old Amanda Decker was sitting on while socializing, the suit says. Decker was a visitor at the competition and was “not participating in any equestrian event.”

Decker was thrown off when Truck hit her horse in the shoulder area. Decker’s head struck the ground. She was taken to a hospital, but she never regained consciousness and died the next day.

The suit maintains that the defendants, the Southwest Barrel Racing Association and the National Barrel Racing Association, should have known that the 7-year-old and Truck “would cause a foreseeable risk of injury” to others.

“Despite the obvious risk that uncontrollable horses and minors can cause,” the barrel racing associations “allowed and even encouraged them to participate in their events for a fee,” the lawsuit alleges.

The suit also says Decker “was killed as a direct result of the Defendants’ failure to properly gate, fence or otherwise protect the observers to their events.”

A representative of the Southwest Barrel Racing Association said in an email that she had not received any information about the suit and needed to get legal advice.

The suit seeks wrongful death damages for Decker’s estate, loss of consortium damages for her husband, Justin Decker, and their two children, and punitive damages.

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