A Montezuma County mounted patrol horse who kicked and injured two children during Escalante Days was startled by the kids’ roughhousing, which included being struck by a plastic hammer, according to witnesses and sheriff reports.
But relatives of the victims disagree with the sheriff report.
On Aug. 11, two mounted patrol officers were standing at the intersection of Central Avenue and Fifth Street.
The horses were calm as a crowd gathered to meet them, said Deputy Donnie Brown, one of the mounted patrolmen.
After feeling his horse shuffle, Brown said he heard a child scream behind him. He dismounted and administered first aid to a child whose head was bleeding, and an ambulance was called.
The crowd became “extremely loud,” Brown said, and included shouts to kill the horses.
Witness and police reports state that the two children, cousins ages 4 and 7, were playing behind the horse and one fell into the horse.
The older child was kicked in the back, and when the horse returned its leg to a standing position, the hoof struck the head of the younger child who was on the ground, Nowlin stated.
A nearby store owner told investigators that leading up to the incident, he had seen one of the two children chasing the other child and hitting him with an inflatable “Thor’s hammer” toy.
When the chase arrived at the police horse, a child “aggressively” hit the horse with the plastic hammer, according to a report of the witness’ statement.
Speaking to The Journal on condition of anonymity, relatives of the two injured children who were at the scene disagreed Wednesday with witnesses’ statements that the children were roughhousing.
They also said they believed it was inappropriate to have horses in an area where children were playing in the first place.
“Going into an area on horseback where kid games are going on should not have happened,” said a relative of the child kicked in the back.
The Penny Hunt game was near where the mounted patrol horses were.
A relative of the child injured in the head said the incident has been “traumatic for the family. There was no roughhousing, and a plastic hammer was not involved.”
The child struck in the head by the horse was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital, then to a children’s hospital in Denver and has since been released.
He required five stitches.
The child struck in the back by the horse suffered an abrasion and is OK, said Nowlin after meeting with the family.
Nowlin said procedures were being reviewed for mounted patrol horses during festivals because of the incident.