A horse owner is calling for people to be more careful and not to leave gates open after her horse was killed on the road last month.

Sarah Duell was woken at 2.25am on 23 December by a phone call from her sister, telling her that her 15-year-old mare, Titch, had been killed.

The 16.2hh thoroughbred had strayed onto a main road and been hit by a car. She died instantly.

“I had seen her born at home almost 15 years ago, I had broken her in, seen her grow, watched her progress but then I saw her laid on the road 100m away from me motionless,” Sarah told H&H.

“The police had closed the road and a car was crashed into the hedge. I asked if the driver was alright fearing the worst. He was walking wounded but thankfully alive.”

She believes that poachers or lampers had gone through the gate in the early hours of the morning and left it open.

Four horses had escaped from the field through the open gate on to the A177, that runs into Stockton on Tees from Durham.

“Being on the outskirts of the town our land is a shortcut to the open countryside and is regularly used by lampers,” she added.

“We don’t usually have trouble with them, but on this occasion they had left a gate open with fatal consequences.”

The three other horses were unharmed.

Ms Duell is now urging others to respect people’s land and property to avoid this happening to anyone else.

She is the third horse owner to contact H&H in several months about the issue.

In November an equine clinic in Lewes, East Sussex, is urged walkers to take extra care after a horse was killed after it escaped through an open gate.

The cob was hit by a car on the A26. The driver was unhurt in the accident.

“I would like to issue a word of caution to anyone who uses footpaths through land containing livestock — if you open a gate, close it behind you,” said a spokesman for Cliffe Equine Clinic.

“This was a wholly avoidable tragedy and the owners are devastated.”

Earlier this year an H&H reader appealed for walkers to take more care when using footpaths in paddocks after her horse was injured on a gate.

Mary Emeny, from Scaynes Hill in West Sussex, was shocked to find her three-year-old filly with a huge wound in her side on 5 June.

The three-year-old home bred, called Midwych Skylla, escaped from her field after walkers left a gate unlatched.

Her side was caught on the gate latch, causing a serious wound, 40cm long and 20cm high.