Dad’s tribute to daughter killed in freak horse riding accident

Samantha Cawkwell
Samantha Cawkwell

The family of a well-respected Fylde equestrienne who died after being struck by one of her horses have described her as an ‘angel’ who always ‘wanted to do her best for everyone’.

Shocked family and friends have paid tribute to Samantha Cawkwell, 31, who was found by a friend in a field off West Moss Road, Ballam, near Lytham, at 4.40pm on Sunday.

Police and paramedics attended and she was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

A file is being prepared for the coroner; it’s understood she was bringing a horse into a stable when it kicked out, striking her in the head and neck.

Miss Cawkwell was the partner of dressage rider and trainer Andrew Hackett; the duo ran a dressage horse company together called Ultimate Dressage Horse, and they lived in Ansdell.

Samantha, known fondly as Sam by her family, was tending to her horses at the stables she owned in Ballam, near Lytham, on Sunday afternoon, when she was found by a friend.

Samantha Cawkwell at 18 years old

Samantha Cawkwell at 18 years old

Her dad John, 61, from Marton, said: “She was found lying on the ground with an injury to her head.

“The police came here to tell us what happened. We will always remember that moment.

“We don’t know exactly what happened but it looks like one of the horses has given her a blow to the head.”

John described his daughter, the oldest of his four children, as an “angel”, who never caused him any worry.

She threw herself into everything she did and she was a real inspiration to be around

John Cawkwell

He said: “I know everyone thinks fondly of their children but she was lovely.

“You’d never come across anyone like her.

“I have got four altogether and Sam was never a minute’s trouble all through her life.

“She always wanted to do her best for everyone.

“These things do happen to the best people because it happened to Sam. She was lovely to everyone and everything whether they were people or animals.”

Her stepmother Elaine Cawkwell described how Sam was horse-mad from a very early age when she took a liking to My Little Pony toys.

Elaine, 43, said: “She had every collection of My Little Pony going, and even then they weren’t good enough.

“There came a time when she wanted real ponies. She started going to weekly riding lessons while we could see if she was responsible enough to have her own.

“We bought her her first pony when she was 16. He was called George, and he was a gentleman who suited her.

“When we knew she would go and look after a pony everyday, we bought her another pony called Sam and after she got into dressage, we bought her Charlie for her 18th birthday.

“He was a top horse and she got really high up in dressage with him before he got arthritis.”

Elaine described how Sam was extremely talented in the dressage-field and she bred her own show-horse Fabulicious, from Charlie and Pearl, another horse given to her by her stepmother.

With Fabulicious, Sam went on to triumph in the international elite leagues, and devoted her life to horses with her partner Andrew Hackett.

Her family do not know which of her five horses caused her injuries.

The couple have been together for 12 years after meeting at a stable yard where she used to help out.

John said: “They meant the world to one another. They did everything together and supported each other through everything they did.

“Andrew is a very successful trainer and so they helped each other with their riding.

“They were a real team, and he is devastated by what has happened, as we all are.”

John and Elaine said that alongside their stables she co-owned with Andrew and an online horse retailers they had launched together, Sam was extremely talented in other fields, including reaching grade six on the piano and becoming a successful skier.

“She threw herself into everything she did and she was a real inspiration to be around,” said John.

“We only spoke to her the day before and she was annoyed that she hadn’t done as well as she’d hoped at a show.

“We’ve shed so many tears and talked about her so much since but it’s not sunk in yet.

“She would phone every day to check everyone was alright.

“She just loved life to the full and we will miss her so much.”

The mother of Samantha’s partner Andrew expressed her shock at the sudden loss.

Eileen Hackett said: “We’re all absolutely devastated. There’s just no answer to it really. She was so young and she was doing something she loved so much.

“We can’t believe what’s happened.

“It’s a real tragedy.”

Scores of friends left messages on social network site Facebook.

Joanne Andrews wrote: “Rest in Peace Sam. Much love to all of your family and friends. Another star shining brightly tonight.”

Lauren Stables posted: “RIP gorgeous girlie – go look after all those beautiful horses up there including my boy Aramis, give him a cuddle from me!”

Andy Lines wrote: “Absolutely in bits. I’m gonna miss your laugh, your cheeky banter and all the fun times... your personality and kindness to people was what made you one of a kind. sleep tight sammy the great!”

And Mia Alexis posted: “You mean so much to so many people and so many lovely memories shared. It’s such a shame and such a loss and I’m sending all my love and thoughts to your family and your friends.”

The riding world also responded with shock and sorrow, with page of tributes on Horse and Hound magazine’s website.

One user, registered as Brighthair, wrote: “She gave me so much help, and had the best sense of humour... she was always someone I could message for advice or if I was having a bad day and she was guaranteed to make me laugh. I owe a lot of my riding to her.”

And Mandi and Hannah posted: “I wanted to pay my respects to such a wonderful kind funny girl who I have watched from afar develop from a pony-mad child in to an amazing horsewoman.

“I am so proud that I was allowed to know Sam and even though tiny, share a little in her life. I have followed Sam and Andrew’s story through Facebook and from various forums and watched with pride as a family friend has climbed her way to a successful life.

“Reading today’s tributes on Facebook reminded me of her wickedly funny sense of humour, her love for her family and friends and her dedication to her sport and the horses she loved so dearly.

“Goodbye my darling, you will have a special place in our hearts forever.”