A horrific road accident in which a horse was killed and its 14-year-old rider was lucky to escape serious injury has raised questions about the lengths riders must go to persuade councils of the need for warning signs.

The collision happened last week on a stretch of unclassified road at Staddiscombe, Devon, near Court Gates livery stables, where the 15hh horse — a seven-year-old working hunter called Bunty — was kept.

The horse’s owner, Eve Short, was with two other livery clients, aged 14 and 19, when a car approached and struck the middle horse. Eve escaped with minor injuries, but Bunty had to be destroyed.

The speed limit on the road, Hooe Lane, is 60mph, and Devon and Cornwall police are investigating.

For the past two years, local riders have been lobbying Plymouth City Council to put up a road sign warning of horses, or reduce the speed limit, at the spot where the accident happened. They have the backing of their MP, Gary Streeter.

Lyndsay Jones, assistant manager at Court Gates stables, says: “The council is just not interested, and says it can’t put up ad hoc road signs or make changes until a person dies — but in this case it was very lucky that a person didn’t die.”

A spokesman for Plymouth City Council denies that a person would have to die before a sign was erected. But he admits that placing of signs is related to accident statistics on specific stretches of road, and to “personal injury” accidents in particular.

“We haven’t been able to install any signs there because the budget hasn’t been available,” he insisted.

  • Read the full story in tomorrow’s issue of Horse & Hound (16 October).


    Get up to 19 issues FREE
    UK’s No1 weekly for Horses for Sale
    Latest results and reports
    TO SUBSCRIBE CLICK HERE