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Tizzy was extravagantly bending round the third pole in the mounted games when she slipped and fell heavily into it. It snapped, and the dagger-like end penetrated deep into her armpit.

When I arrived, Tizzy was standing, shaking. A huge group of people had collected around her, one girl holding the free end of the protruding post so that its movement did not alarm the shocked pony.The first thing I did was saw off most of the pole, rather than just pulling it out, in case of a massive haemorrhage. I gave Tizzy a sedative and painkiller by intravenous injection, although, by this time, she seemed less distressed than her owners.

We loaded her into the trailer and they followed me to the clinic. This was not without excitement, as the trailer was stopped by police for going over a red traffic light ¨ but once the officer was shown the problem, he obliged by giving us an escort, complete with blue flashing light!At the clinic, Tizzy was anaesthetised in a padded box and I carefully removed the 18in of pole which was firmly wedged in her armpit. You might think such an object would penetrate straight into the heart, but there is an incredibly strong ribcage for protection.I breathed a sigh of relief when remarkably little blood followed the pole, meaning that no major blood vessels (and there are several in the armpit) had been ruptured.

The wound was flushed under pressure with saline, then sutured with a drain in place to allow unwanted fluids and pus to escape. Tizzy was put on antibiotics, as well as receiving anti-tetanus serum and a course of painkillers.She was box-rested for 10 days, with the drain in place for four, but the only side effect of the trauma was the entry of air under the skin of her shoulder and neck.She developed the look of an elephant and if you ran your hand over her skin, it crackled. But she remained happy and all she has to show for the incident is a small scar in her armpit