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Rider and horse injured at Oklahoma Training Track after loud noise

Rider and horse injured at Oklahoma Training Track after loud noise

House demolition work sparked incident
Rider and horse injured at Oklahoma Training Track after loud noise
Exercise rider Heather Coots, right, talks about how she and the horse she was riding were injured.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Heather Coots was four strides into an exercise ride on a thoroughbred named Amangalla Tuesday morning at the Oklahoma Training Track when she was thrown to the ground. 

"It sounded like a bomb went off," Coots said, describing the noise that spooked the animal. "The horse was terrified."

The sound came from a home on Fifth Avenue, as it came crashing to the ground as a result of a demolition. 

Coots broke her tailbone, and 2-year-old Amangalla suffered an injury to its hind leg after skidding into nearby pavement while running toward the stables. 

"The horse could've died, and I could have, too," Coots said. 

Caroline Nally, Coots' fellow exercise rider, was riding nearby when the incident happened. 

"We heard a machine but didn't think anything of it," Nally said. "When it happened, her horse whirled and spun around, and she was projected forward. She was lying on the track in agony."

Nally said the Oklahoma Training Track had at least 40 to 50 other horses running on it during the incident and was closed for approximately 20 minutes afterward. 

In July 2017, the city amended its noise ordinance to prevent construction noise from scaring the horses during training, said Assistant Building and Construction Inspector Patrick Cogan. 

The amendment applies to noise exceeding 60 decibels and is in effect from 7 to 10:30 a.m. April 1 to Oct. 31. 

Cogan said the amendment only applies to a portion of the street — from 56 to 130 Fifth Ave. 

Coots said the incident happened at 8:30 a.m. at 100 Fifth Ave., which is now an empty lot full of dirt. 

Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin said he heard about the incident involving Coots and Amangalla. 

"We didn't have anyone out measuring noise at that time, so I'm not sure that the noise level was in violation of the code," he said. "I understand the contractor had indicated that he didn't know what the time was when he was performing the work. 

"It's my understanding that the contractor will not continue doing work during the prohibited time." 

The contractor, Ellsworth and Son Excavating Inc. of Lake George, was not available for comment on Thursday. 

Martin said he has asked code enforcement officers to patrol Fifth Avenue during the prohibited time to ensure there are no further violations. 

He said when contractors do business in the city, they are "supposed to be familiar with city building codes."

"[The amendment to the noise ordinance] is in the City Code, so they should be aware of that," he said of Ellsworth and Son. 

Coots sought medical treatment Wednesday at OrthoNY after she began defecating blood. The medical practice determined she had a broken tail bone and has not ruled out a possible fracture to her sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of the spine.

Amangalla was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital on Tuesday and has received surgery to its ankle. The thoroughbred was expected to be moved to Burke Equine Veterinary Care and Rehabilitation in Saratoga Springs on Friday. 

"It's a great sign," Coots said of the horse being moved to a rehabilitation center. "But it could still die if its ankle becomes infected."

Coots filed a police report Thursday and is looking to hire a lawyer to determine what can be done about the incident. 

"I need a massage and a chiropractor — neither of which I can afford," she said. "There was a complete lack of common sense. It's like if you were at the park and found a stick, would you throw it in the bike lane?"

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