The BHS is advising riders to find out details of local shoots in their area after an incident in the West Country when two horses took fright and ran off with their riders.

One of the riders, Barbara Jeffery, suffered serious injuries, including a detached shoulder blade, a broken foot and a damaged knee cap.

Barbara, an experienced rider, was riding her 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare Rumble off the road near the village of Exford in Somerset. She was escorting a young horse.

“Rumble’s very good in trafficand quite used to gunfire in this area, but the other horse took off at the sound of beating in the hedgerow and together with the volley of shots, she couldn’t take any more.”

The horse ran off down the road for about a mile, but herlegs went under her as she went round the bend.

I was convinced I wasn’t going to survive,” says Barbara. “I tried to turn her, but her legs were going from under her so I carried on going straight. It seemed safer to sit there and hope.

“As she went round the bend and fell, I managed to get clear of her. I could feel my collar bone grating and couldn’t move.I saw the other rider come off in a driveway. She was two yards away from a 30ft drop.

“She came over to help me and went to the village for help. One car driver passed me without stopping.”

An ambulance arrived around 25 minutes later.

Barbara’s mare and the other horse got up and galloped off and they then ran into another group of horses.

At one point there were eight horses running loose in the village of Exford,”said Barbara’s husband, equestrian PR consultant, Peter Jeffrey.

The other rider got away with a broken finger and her horse was grazed. Rumble had the most serious injuries.

“The skin was open in the horse’s face and you could see one of the tendons in the leg,” said Peter. “But everything appears to be healing.”

Barbara is determined to ride again, but four weeks after the incident says she is angry at being put in the situation.

“I still feel worried when we pass hedges in the car. I get a flashback to the speed I was going at. And I felt myself flinch when shots went off while I wasin the house the other day.But I did notice Rumble in the paddock when they went off and she didn’t bat an eyelid.”

Since the incident there’s been a meeting of local shoots and the Exmoor National Park officials. The shoots have agreed to publish dates and set up some sort of warning system.

“Some precautions have been put in place but not enough, more needs to be done,” says Peter Jeffrey.

Royal Marines investigated over shooting

According to a reportin the Mail on Sunday, Military Police are investigating allegations that Royal Marines shot two Thoroughbred horses with air rifles.

Officials have impounded air rifles from troops following complaints by the owner of horses kept in a field near the barracks of 42 Commando.

A vet removed airgun pellets, apparently fired at point-blank range, from one of the horses.

Owner Terri Anne Swift,27, is reported to have taken a £3,500 loan to have the horses stabled elsewhere due to fears for their safety.

Base Commander, Major Rayson Pritchard, confirmed that two young marines were under investigation.

Read special news report on shooting in this week’s Horse & Hound (21 November), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

Read about other hacking incidents: