Tourist thrown from out-of-control horse on Negril beach

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland — At least one director of the Negril Chamber of Commerce is calling for the issue of illegal horseback riding on the white sand beaches of Negril to be addressed.

Sophia Grizzle made the call following an incident on Saturday in which a guest from Mississippi in the United States of America was injured in a horseback ride that went awry.

The guest, who was thrown from the horse, was assisted by a nurse and emergency medical technicians from the Emergency medical services of the Negril Fire Station, who transported her to the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital in Westmoreland. She is reported to have had a muscle injury.

On Saturday, the horse went on a wild rampage, sending guests on the busy beach scampering for cover while leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

“The incident could have been worse. There were children playing on the beach and the horse could have hit one of them in the head. It has been an issue we have had for many years, and it is something we have to deal with before somebody dies, as they had with the jet ski,” Grizzle said.

For years, stakeholders in Negril, which shares both the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland, have been complaining about out-of-control youths offering horseback riding on the beach illegally. Hoteliers have also complained that tourists were riding the horses along the beach with little regard for their own safety or that of other beach users.

According to Grizzle, the police have tried to control the issue, but with little success, which she said is due to ageing laws.

“The police have tried, but the laws are very antiquated, and we need to start informing our guests of where there are beaches that horseback riding can take place, and where it is illegal to ride horses,” she said. “Negril beach is a public beach for families, children, and the elderly to enjoy it and it is too dangerous to have these horses galloping up and down the beach every day. It is only by the grace of God that somebody has not died yet.”

In 2014, the then head of the Negril police Deputy Superintendent Mercedes Currie had stated that, while arrests had been made in the matter, the police are not in a position to keep the horses.

“I can advise that as it relates to the horses, since the last meeting, two arrests were made and a horse was captured by the police,” DSP Currie said during an address to the now defunct Negril Resort Board.

She continued: “Unfortunately, we had to release the horse into the custody of the owner, because we were not able to adequately take care of the animal. The animal remained on our compound and was almost starving to death.”

“The owner went to court and got an out-of-court settlement for the horse to be returned to him and, in compliance with the judge's decision, we had to release the animal to him. These matters remain before the court because the men pleaded 'not guilty',” DSP Currie said then.

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