What happened to Hannah Serfass? Rotational fall meaning explored as 15-year old equestrian is killed in tragic accident

Equestrian Hannah Serfass died while competing in an event (Image via Andrew Ryback Photography)
Equestrian Hannah Serfass died while competing in an event (Image via Andrew Ryback Photography)

15-year-old equestrian Hannah Serfass passed away in Florida on Sunday. The teenager was participating in a jumping event at Fox Lea Farms, Venice. The United States Equestrian Federation announced that she suffered from a “rotational fall” that was “unrelated to a jumping effort.” The athlete was pronounced dead after being rushed to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

The USEF announced that Hannah Serfass was riding a 12-year-old Holsteiner named Quaxx 2 when the incident occurred. Police officers told news officials that the equestrian was halfway through the course when the horse stumbled. This led to the youngster toppling forward and falling off the animal.

Deputies also revealed that the horse ended up landing on Hannah Serfass’ head on the ground.

The horse was not injured when the incident occurred.

Fox Lea Farms issued a statement following the incident:

“Hannah from Webster, Fla was a very talented up-and-coming young rider who trained with Robin Swinderman. She was known for her passion for horses, her natural ability, and her work ethic. The USEF, USHJA, and Fox Lea Farm team wish to extend our deepest condolences to Hannah’s family, support team, and friends. The Federation takes every accident very seriously and will be reviewing the accident thoroughly to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.”

Hannah Serfass was part of the Sumter County 4-H group.

What is a rotational fall? Hannah Serfass suffers from fatal accident

According to The Grassroot Gazette, rotational falls are the leading cause of death and serious injuries when it comes to equestrian sports. It refers to a horse hitting a fence with its forelegs or chest. When this leads to the horse and rider’s body being thrown forward, it can have the fence act as a pivot point, resulting in the horse landing on top of the rider.

Several top performers have experienced rotational falls in the past, including Darren Chiacchia. After the accident, the equestrian was in a coma, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, and broken ribs.

Hannah Serfass was a part of the Wildwood Middle High School Track Team. A Sumter County School District official recently revealed that she was home-schooled. However, she participated in extra-curricular activities with the school. She was reportedly a junior rider.

Speaking about her character, journalist Ben Baugh, who wrote for the World Equestrian Center Magazine, lauded her “coachability, focus, discipline, talent,” in March 2023.

Hannah Serfass participated in the entire 2022 Winter Circuit at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala. She also competed in Michigan.


Apart from being an equestrian, Serfass also competed in gymnastics until fourth grade. Her teammates were informed about her passing on Monday morning.

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Edited by Karishma Rao
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