The horse community is shocked and saddened by the loss of young eventer, Zara Buren, in a tragic riding accident in the late afternoon of Monday, September 21, 2020.

Fourteen-year-old Zara Buren and her mother, both experienced riders from the Oakville area, had been riding their horses at a property near Milgrove Side Road and Highway 5, “on a path not familiar to them” according to police, when the girl’s horse became trapped in a marshy bog. The girl was able to dismount but while waiting for help, she became submerged. Although pulled from the marsh a short time later, she was without vital signs. She was rushed to a local trauma centre, where she succumbed to her injuries and died.

The horse was successfully removed from the bog.

Zara Buren is remembered by Holly Jacks-Smither, her coach of the past three years, as one of the most dedicated students she has ever taught. “She constantly put her horse before herself. She was a student of the sport, as well as a competitive athlete. She was a fabulous teammate in our barn.”

Jacks-Smither says Zara had been riding since she was a toddler, and describes her as “an absolute joy to teach.”

Zara was also the youngest team member of the GRIT (Great Rider Intensive Training).

On her Facebook page, Jacks-Smither stated: “I can’t put into words the last 12 hours but heaven gained an angel last night. As I sit in shock thinking of all the memories we made, I can’t think of a bad one. Your infectious smile, your drive, determination, work ethic, love for your fellow riders and especially, what stood out to me most, your love for your horses and the pride and horsemanship you showed every day. You were a strong force to be reckoned with. You were brave until the very end. An old soul who was not only my student but my friend. We lost one of the best, and I still can’t believe it is real.”

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations in Zara’s name be made to the Oakville & Milton Humane Society.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Zara Buren.