Owners warned to wear hats when handling horses after 77-year-old is kicked in the head

  • A horseowner whose father had to be airlifted to hospital after being kicked in the head by a “quiet” horse is urging others to always wear helmets while handling horses.

    Holly Bearsley, who works as a small animal vet, said the accident was a reminder that even familiar horses could act in unpredictable ways.

    Last Wednesday (30 October), Holly’s 77-year-old father David Stevenson was turning out a 15-year-old eventer they have owned for 10 years when the horse pulled away.

    “The horse must have done that journey 3,000 times with no incident at all,” Holly said. “This time he got excited, got away, bucked and kicked my dad in the head.”

    David was knocked unconscious for five minutes. Fortunately Holly’s mum, who has recently undergone knee surgery, was at the yard and was able to call the air ambulance.

    “Great North air ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and they were absolutely brilliant,” Holly said. “He was lucky to have survived.”

    David suffered multiple facial fractures, but scans did not show any bleeding on the brain. He is now back at home where it is expected to take six to eight weeks for the bones to heal and three to six months to recover from the concussion.

    “What I wanted was to highlight to people was that this wasn’t a youngster or an unpredictable horse — accidents can happen and people need to be careful,” Holly added. “It can happen to anyone and a split second can lead to tragedy.”

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    Holly, whose family own their own yard in North Yorkshire, said that if her father had been wearing a helmet, some of the injuries could have been avoided.

    “He has damage to the bones of his forehead and both eye sockets, where a hat would have protected him,” she said. “He would lead youngsters with a hat on, but not older horses. I think we will all be wearing hats at all times now.

    “I wouldn’t have done before if I was just going out to the field, but I certainly will now — and also when getting ready at competitions, studding up and tacking up.”

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