A teenager was critically injured when she was kicked in the head by a horse near Nelson today afternoon.

Luckily, St John Ambulance rural support officer Lindsay McCaw was nearby when emergency services were contacted and he rushed to the scene about 5pm.

The 17-year-old girl had been working with the horse when it kicked her hard in the forehead, causing a substantial head injury and knocking her out.

"When horses lash out, if you happen to be at the end of their hoof there's a lot of power in those legs and that doesn't have too much mercy on a young head - or an old head, for that matter,'' Mr McCaw said.


Her family had witnessed the event and were very distressed as they waited for a rescue helicopter to arrive.

"I think the horse knew that something untoward had happened because it was actually quite hysterical in the paddock and we got members of the family to take it away so we could deal with her.''

She had remained unconscious during the trip to Nelson Hospital, but responded to stimuli - a positive sign.

"But for all intents and purposes she was suffering from quite a significant head injury,'' Mr McCaw said.