EDMONTON – The 16-year-old boy who died Saturday after being struck by a horse during rodeo practice in Thorsby has been identified by his friends.
Ben Steiger was practicing for a saddle bronc event during a rodeo training school at the Thorsby Haymaker Centre when he was thrown from the horse.
“The way he got bucked off was right out over the horse’s head and he kind of landed around his front feet. And the horse just didn’t have time to maneuver him and get out of his way,” said Skeeter Thurston, who co-runs the school.
“This horse was actually trying to not step on him, but he did make contact with him.”
RCMP and EMS were called to the rodeo just before 5 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, members of the public were performing CPR on the teen.
“They had a medic that was right on scene for the event and the Thorsby fire department was also on scene shortly, along with Alberta Health Services,” said Corporal Corey Kyle with Breton/Thorsby RCMP.
STARS Air Ambulance was also called to the scene, but the boy died of his injuries.
Thurston says Steiger was not wearing a helmet at the time, but he was wearing a protective vest and mouth guard. Thurston calls what happened a “tragic accident.”
“Our condolences go out to the family. It’s a very tragic accident and we’re trying to put it in perspective.”
Thurston runs the school with Dave Shields. Shields has been teaching rodeo training schools for 30 years and says this is the first time he’s ever had an incident like this happen.
Steiger was one of about 35 young people taking part in the three-day rodeo training school.
“He was at a rodeo school last weekend and he loved it. He was sitting on the chutes yesterday before he got on and he was laughing and, ‘okay boys, let’s go. I’m having fun,'” recalled Shields.
“He’s a great kid. He’s energetic.”
Victim services was on hand Sunday morning to speak with the other participants. They were given the option of going home, which some did, or carrying on for the final day.
Shields says the others have already started coming together, and plan on making a special patch as a way to honour Steiger; they hope to wear it on their riding vests
“These kids have gotten together themselves and want to do something,” said Shields. “Most of them just met Ben on Friday and this is the kind of family that rodeo is. We stick together, even if you don’t know somebody.”
Steiger was from Turner Valley. He was a member of the Alberta High School Rodeo Association.
Thorsby is located about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
*This story was originally published on Saturday, April 5, 2014. It was updated most recently at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, to include details about the boy.
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