An experienced horse trainer and member of the Escondido Mounted Posse died Saturday after her horse spooked and fell, knocking her off, a group founder said.
Diana Cavender, 52, was riding to a staging area after the Lakeside Western Days Parade when the accident happened, said Al Pfeltz, one of the founders of the group.
Her horse spooked and started to spin, Pfeltz said. Though Cavender tried to get the horse under control, it slipped on the asphalt and fell on its side, he said.
"The last thing I remember seeing is the horse lose its footing and fall down on its right side and the force of the impact whipped Diana down and her head into the asphalt," he told NBC 7 San Diego.
Cavender's head hit the ground; friends say her husband tended to her until medics arrived.
She was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital and died six hours after being admitted as a result of head injuries.
Pfeltz said Cavender was one of the best horse trainers in the business. She and her husband owned a number of horses, he said.
The rest of the posse says they lost their best rider.
"Diana was always someone we respected because of her ability to ride and her knowledge of horses, but I think the most important thing was not the horse it was God and her husband," Pfeltz said.
Sometimes, even the most skilled riders can get knocked down, he said.
"Riding horses is like riding a motorcycle, it is not something you'll go through your whole life without getting hurt," said Pfeltz.
The Escondido Mounted Posse will hold a memorial service on Tuesday.