The ambulance service says a riding helmet almost certainly saved the life of a young woman whose horse collapsed under her in a freak accident.
The accident happened on Sunday afternoon on the Wainuiomata South Coast, near Wellington.
Dave Greenberg of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter says the 19-year-old woman was with a group of three horse riders, when her horse had a seizure, collapsed on top of her and died.
He says the woman was knocked unconscious but people nearby were able to pull her out from under the horse within minutes and she was airlifted to Wellington Hospital.
Mr Greenberg says the woman's helmet was shattered but it did its job and protected her head.