More event riders have reported near misses with cars on a cross-country course, just a month after Tom Rowland and his horse were hit by the director of Hartpury Horse Trials.

Jonty Evans narrowly averted another incident at West Wilts on 13 September.
He was competing a 6-year-old in his first novice event when, before the penultimate fence — a combination — he noticed a man driving a car towards the obstacle.

“He was looking the other way, then turned his head to see me and had to steer away,” Jonty told H&H.

Jonty was able to jump the fence safely and went on to win the class.
The driver of the car apologised as soon as Jonty had completed the course.

“We all know that no one is infallible and that people make mistakes, but I do think events and officials should be hyper-aware, in the wake of the Hartpury incident, about horses and cars,” said Jonty.

Ellie Hughes was competing in an intermediate section at Gatcombe (20 September) when she had to slow right down to avoid a 4×4.

“I was fairly sure the driver hadn’t seen me, so I took a big pull,” Ellie told H&H. “I flagged it up afterwards and had two time-penalties taken away — I suspect it cost me more, though.”

She went on to finish 5th with Short Changed on 10.8 time penalties.

Hartpury College launched an investigation after Tom Rowland and W Iridium were hit by event director Sarah Phillips’ 4×4 in the CCI2* (news, 15 August).

The horse was unharmed and Hartpury has paid for veterinary treatment and investigative work.

British Eventing (BE) national safety officer Jonathan Clissold said all organisers and officials were made aware of the “level of care” needed with vehicles allowed on course, in the wake of Tom Rowland’s accident.

“We advise that the amount of vehicle movement on course during this phase is kept to an absolute minimum,” said Mr Clissold. “Common sense should, of course, prevail because some vehicle movement is essential.”

The issue will be discussed further at the end of season review meetings, he added.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (3 October 2013)

Photo by Katy Vincent