A rider whose horses were killed by a drink driver has made a winning return to the showring with her new pony.

Lily Gibbs, 22, her mother Hayley and their yard manager were hacking home from Windsor Great Park on 8 December 2012 when they were hit by a car driven by Christian Myers. Both the Gibbs’ horses had to be euthanased.

Myers was later disqualified for 16 months, a sentence branded as “pathetic” by Mrs Gibbs.

She was so traumatised by the accident that she has not ridden since. But Lily began helping their yard manager, showing producer Ian Smeeth, back a youngster at Christmas — and bought the mare when her insurance money came through.

On Saturday, 25 May, Lily and 14.3hh Bella Bellagio won both their in-hand and ridden coloured classes at Heathfield Show, qualifying for the Royal International (RIHS).

“It’s such lovely news,” said Mrs Gibbs. “We were delighted to be shedding tears of happiness for once.”

“It’s been a long road to get here,” added Lily, who suffers back pain from a vertebra fractured in the crash.

“I am delighted as we had no real ambitions for ‘Twinkle’ this year; she is quite a backwards four-year-old. This was her first ridden class, but she behaved impeccably,” said Lily.

It was a successful outing for Ian Smeeth too, who won six classes with five horses.

Ian was also injured in the accident and unable to ride for six weeks.

“It has been a big confidence exercise to get Lily back riding,” he told H&H. “It was very emotional to see her win.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (6 June 2013)