A VERY rare reaction to a kick from a pony killed an Egyptian boy at a riding school near Radlett last year, an inquest heard.

Yahiya Arafa, aged nine, of, Heliopolis, Cairo, had been on holiday with his family in London and was attending "pony week" at the South Medburn Equestrian Centre, Watling Street, when the accident happened.

The centre is owned and run by close family friends of the Arafas, Margaret and Harold Rose.

Mr Rose said: "It was the worst day Margaret and I have had in our lives.

"It's a tragedy that will burn in my heart until the day I die.

"Yahiya was so precious, not only to his family, but also to us.

"The last thing he said to his mother when she left him with us was that looking after the ponies was the best thing he'd ever done.

"In 30 years of running riding schools we have never had an incident like this."

Although nobody actually saw the pony's hoof connect with Yahiya, a member of staff did see the animal lash out as the children were leading their ponies from a paddock to the centre's yard for grooming.

Riding instructor Michelle Pack told coroner Edward Thomas on Wednesday she saw the pony in front of the one Yahiya was leading, stop and bend down to eat some grass.

She said: "I had just called to my colleague Natalia, who was leading Yahiya's pony.

"She turned round just as the one in front stopped and Yahiya's got too close to it.

"I saw the kick, but I didn't see if it hit anything."

Janine Lucklock, who was in charge of the pony week, told the inquest she heard a scream, turned round and saw Yahiya fall to his knees and then collapse on the ground.

She immediately ran over to him, put him in the recovery position and called for an ambulance.

She said his eyes were not focusing properly and he was not responding to her voice.

Janine said: "His breathing was very deep. Then it started slowing and stopped.

"I rolled him onto his back and just got on with CPR.

"I loosened his clothing but could not see any mark where the pony might have kicked him."

Paramedics arrived and took Yahiya to Watford General Hospital, where paediatricians had been paged ahead of his arrival.

Doctors battled to resuscitate him and only pronounced him dead after no heartbeat had been detected for 45 minutes.

A post mortem examination carried out at Watford General by consultant pathologist Dr Alan Rubin, revealed very little physical evidence as to how Yahiya had died, aside from a very faint bruise on his chest.

Dr Rubin said he concluded that Yahiya died from Commotio Cordis (commotion of the heart).

He said: "There are only about 125 cases of this recorded for the whole of North America and Canada.

"It is certainly not common.

"If the heart receives a trauma at a certain point in its rhythm, it can cause the heart to stop.

"If the impact, which does not have to be very forceful at all, had been a few milliseconds earlier or later it would not have had this affect."

He said resuscitation attempts in cases of Commotio Cordis were rarely successful.

Mr Thomas recorded a verdict of accidental death and offered his profound condolences to the family.

He said nobody at the centre could have done anything more to save Yahiya, a fact confirmed by exemplary health and safety reports.