A man whose thigh was broken when he tried to ride a loose horse in her field without permission tried to take legal action against the mare’s owner.

The lady, who did not want to be named, believes the public needs greater awareness and education about horses, to prevent harm to either equines or people.

She told H&H her mare was kept in a relatively inaccessible field as she is prone to colicking when fed unusual food, and there were signs warning she was aggressive, although this was not the case, on the fences, put there in an attempt to stop people feeding her.

“When I got to the field to feed her, I found a man lying in the field,” she said.

“I asked what was going on and he started shouting and swearing at me; saying my horse had kicked him and was dangerous. I said: ‘What are you doing in her field?’”

The owner said the intruder would have had to go through two gates, “walk a fair bit” and climb through an electric fence to reach the horse.

“He must have just thought: ‘That’s a nice horse, I’ll try to ride it,’” she said.

“He’d obviously tried to get on her – what he did I don’t know – and she’d spun and kicked him in the thigh and broken it.

“He was saying he was going to sue me, and take me for every penny I had.

“I told him it was stupid and dangerous to get on a strange horse, and that he was lucky he hadn’t got on as she’d have had him off in seconds. He could have killed himself, but it was apparently all my fault.”

Soon afterwards, a solicitor’s letter arrived but as the owner had British Horse Society (BHS) gold membership, she had third-party liability insurance.

“The BHS took it on, and that was it, the next thing I heard was it had been dropped as there was no case to answer,” she said.

“It’s so lucky I had that as otherwise I might have panicked and not known what to do; maybe even given him money.”

The owner said there are also ponies living opposite her home, and that these are frequently fed by members of the public – some of whom also lift their children on to their backs.

“People seem to see a horse and think they can do what they want,” she said.

“One of the ponies died last year because someone had left a netting bag full of food tied to the fence and he ate the whole thing.

“There’s not enough awareness or education among the public; they don’t realise what they think is a simple treat could kill a horse, or how dangerous it is putting young children on the backs of these unbroken ponies.

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“It took my mare weeks to be calm enough to stand by a mounting block again after what happened, and now she’s stuck with a reputation for being aggressive, even among horsey people.

“As everyone says, I don’t know what that man did to her, but it’s me who’s got to deal with the fallout.”

See this week’s Horse & Hound (22 February) for more information and advice on how best to deal with similar situations.