Aspen: Horse bite draws lawsuit |

Aspen: Horse bite draws lawsuit

Charles Agar
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” A Georgia family is suing Maroon Bells Lodge and Outfitter over allegations that one of the company’s horses attacked and disfigured their daughter in 2006.

In a lawsuit filed in Pitkin County Court on Friday, Scott Birkholtz and Tiffany Britt, both of Alpharetta, Ga., allege that on Aug. 19, 2006, while waiting in line for a horse ride at the T-Lazy 7 stables, their daughter, Olivia Birkholtz was “viciously” bitten in the face by one of the horses, “severing, and tearing completely off, a portion of her left ear.”

The horse was tied to a post in a place designed to encourage guests to interact with the animals, according to the suit, and the girl had been petting other animals when the horse bit her.

The horse that allegedly bit the girl had also bitten other people and was later destroyed, according to the lawsuit, but the outfitter later claimed they had no documentation about where they got the horse, how it was treated or of any prior bite.

The girl’s injuries were serious and painful, causing permanent disfigurement and requiring ongoing medical treatment, according to the suit.

Reached by phone on Monday, staff at the outfitter said they were aware of the lawsuit but could not comment.

The company gives horseback riding lessons, runs rides and holds events from leased stables on the T-Lazy 7 ranch west of Aspen on the road leading to the Bells.

“As far as I know, it’s still in litigation,” said Dan MacEachen, owner of Maroon Bells Lodge and Outfitters.

MacEachen said the matter was being handled by the company’s insurance company and he could not comment.

The lawsuit calls for financial retribution for the girl’s injuries, disfigurement and potential economic losses.

The attorney for Birkholtz, Douglas R. Griess of the law firm Peterson, Dymond, and Reagor in Greenwood Village, could not be reached for comment.

The Birkholtz’s allege in the suit that the company was negligent in allowing the child to walk near the dangerous horse and that outfitter staff created a dangerous condition in the petting area.

The family is asking for a jury trial.

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