A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl died from a cardiac arrest after she was kicked by a horse as she rode her Shetland pony, an inquest heard.

Bonnie Armitage was struck in the chest by the blow while out riding with the Cotswold Hunt in Miserden on Saturday.

The schoolgirl's parents, Nick and Polly Armitage, did not attend the brief opening inquest, which was held at Gloucestershire Coroner's Court in Gloucester.

Assistant coroner David Dooley told the hearing that Mr and Mrs Armitage, from West Hanney, near Wantage, Oxfordshire were "distraught" at the death of their daughter.

Coroner's officer Philip Squibbs gave brief details of Bonnie's death during an organised hunt at Miserden, near Stroud on April 2.

"The circumstances are, Bonnie was part of an organised hunt, riding her own Shetland pony," he said.

"She was riding when her horse got close to another horse, which kicked out and struck her chest. She fell from her horse, apparently unconscious, and subsequently went into cardiac arrest."

Mr Squibbs said paramedics and an air ambulance attended the scene and CPR was carried out as Bonnie was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

"Life extinct was pronounced in the emergency department at 1.09pm on the same day," he added.

The inquest heard that Bonnie was wearing safety gear at the time she sustained the fatal injuries.

Her father Nick, a deputy head teacher of her school, St Hugh's preparatory school in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, formally identified her body yesterday at the mortuary in Gloucester.

A post mortem examination was carried out by pathologist Dr John McCarthy who gave the cause of death as hemopericardium and impact trauma to the chest.

Mr Dooley said: "Normally I would confirm the release of the body for cremation or burial but I believe the parents are still too distraught to make necessary arrangements. Is that the circumstances?"

Mr Squibbs replied: "At this moment in time, yes."

The inquest was adjourned until September when a full hearing is expected to take place.

Bonnie's death has hit the equestrian community hard and fellow riders want to show their support for her family.

Riders from across the world are posting photographs on Facebook of themselves wearing something blue while riding.

They are using the hashtag #blueforbonnie - as blue was Bonnie's favourite colour.

Meanwhile, police are investigating posts made on social media, which claim the girl's death is "karma" because she was riding with a hunt.

Writing on a Facebook page for hunt saboteurs, one person said: "Karma. Hopefully the parents don't indulge in such a disgusting vile pass time any more (sic)."

Another wrote: "Fox 1 - 0 Murderous parents."

The posts were condemned by other social media users and the Countryside Alliance.

Gloucestershire Police said: "Some of these comments are clearly very unpleasant and offensive but we are reviewing them to see if they constitute a criminal offence under either the Malicious Communications Act or Public Order Act.

"We would remind people that anyone who makes threats or harasses someone online could be committing a crime and in such cases we will look to take appropriate action."