A teenage girl was thrown from her pony and trampled during a “frightening” and “deliberate” ambush by a stranger on a bridleway.

Fourteen-year-old Ella Storey suffered a broken nose and severe bruising to her face in the incident, which happened as she hacked with a friend down the rural track in Mossley, Tameside.

Ella’s mum Debbie described how 10-year-old pony Puzzle was spooked by a “large-built” man who leapt from bushes waving his arms as the pair rode past.

“It was very frightening for her and it was lucky she was with someone, we have no idea what his intentions were,” Debbie said.

“Horses are flight animals and Puzzle panicked, Ella wasn’t expecting it and came off. The man just ran off and didn’t stop.”

As the 14hh pony, who Ella has owned for two years, spooked and bolted, she kicked her rider in the face.

“Ella managed to get back up and catch her but she was in a bit of a state,” added Debbie, who has owned horses for more than 30 years. “She Facetimed me on the way back to the yard crying and trying to explain what had happened. Her face had just gone into one big swelling.”

As Debbie had recently had an operation, Ella’s grandfather took her straight to A&E while the girls at the yard looked after Puzzle, who had escaped unhurt.

“Initially she thought she’d lost her teeth as when the horse hit her, her face must’ve gone numb,” Debbie said. “She had big scratches from the shoe and at A&E they confirmed she had broken her nose but said they couldn’t do anything until the swelling went down.”

Ella has missed a few days of school while recovering and is now waiting for a referral to a maxillofacial clinic to have her nose set.

“Fortunately it hasn’t knocked her confidence with Puzzle, they’re very bonded. She kept saying ‘Mum, it wasn’t her fault’. It amazes me how well she’s handled it,” Debbie added. “I think it has knocked her confidence riding out alone though, and I think it would be better to ride in a group at the moment.

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“The man who did it must be local because of the location — it’s very frightening behaviour and I hope he doesn’t manage to do anything to anyone else.”

Debbie said she wanted to use the incident to “raise awareness” in people that horses are flight animals and can be easily spooked.

“The consequences could have been a lot worse,”she added.

Debbie is considering reporting the incident to police.

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