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Judge calls woman’s claims against Peninsula horse organization ‘irrelevant and embarrassing’

Horse trainer claimed she was defamed by dressage organization

A Saanich Peninsula horse trainer’s lawsuit claiming she was harassed and defamed following an incident in a Saanich Fairgrounds parking lot was dismissed by a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in June 2018, when Jennifer Pinkerton was saddling her horse in preparation for a competition at the fairgrounds. Pinkerton said her horse tried to run after his stablemate, who had just left the parking lot. She began using a “bag stick” – a plastic shopping bag taped on the end of a dressage whip – to prevent the horse from breaking free. Court documents are unclear how the whip was used.

At that time, Pinkerton alleges that a fellow competitor, Ruth Lick, approached her aggressively, expressing disapproval for the “bag stick” technique. Pinkerton said Lick left and returned with Sheryl Williams, the entry secretary and a member of board of directors for the Victoria Saanich Canadian Dressage Owners and Riders Society. She said Lick then accused her of abusing her horse while Williams looked on.

The next month, Pinkerton claims that a dressage show she had entered in was “deliberately and maliciously or recklessly or negligently” designed to deprive her of a fair competition. She said because of a scheduling deficit she was thrown from the horse and suffered a hip injury.

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Pinkerton further claimed that a letter of reprimand asking her to leave the warm-up area if her horse was disruptive was “without basis” and written maliciously, recklessly or negligently.

Further claims assert that the society failed to insert the scores of Pinkerton or her daughter and prevented Pinkerton from participating in a training clinic.

Finally, the horse trainer claimed she was diagnosed with mental health and health issues as a result of the unresolved incidents. The suit, filed against Victoria Saanich Canadian Dressage Owners and Riders Society, sought relief for damages including harm to reputation, money spent to travel to off-Island competitions, extreme emotional distress and physical illness, among others.

Justice Robert Punnett dismissed claims of defamation and found a plea of emotional distress in the case was not sufficient. The negligence claim is bound to fail, the judge said, as well as any claim for harassment.

“The pleadings are irrelevant, embarrassing, scandalous and vexatious,” Punnett said. “They fail to disclose causes of action.”

The judge dismissed the claims against the dressage society.

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