A rider who was injured when she and her horse became stuck in a “dangerous” bridleway gate wants to raise awareness of the issue.
Natalie White was hacking her 16.3hh part-bred Knabstrupper mare Kinna on a bridleway at Turville Valley on 1 January when she had difficulty opening a gate.
Natalie told H&H: “At the top of a hill I noted the gate was weighted but I thought I could get through it. It had a chain connecting one end of the gate to the post and a massive hinge on the chain so it automatically pulled it shut.
“The gate opened towards me, and there was a fence on my right which created a channel. I didn’t realise how weighted it was and when I opened it I couldn’t throw it enough to open fully. Kinna got impatient and went to march through and it immediately slammed shut on us. Because it opened toward me, the more Kinna pushed to go forward the tighter it shut on us and the metal pin of the latch went into my foot,” said Natalie.
“It was incredibly painful, the pin was getting pushed deeper into my foot. All I could do was hope she took a step back; luckily she did and either Kinna or I kicked it out of the way long enough for us to get through.
“Gates have always been tricky with her, she’s so big I can’t get off unless there’s somewhere for me to get back on again, and I shouldn’t have to.”
Natalie had to ride 30 minutes back to the village, where she asked a passer-by to hold Kinna while she checked her.
“She had ripped her exercise blanket which I think protected her from any grazes. I had to take my boot off and figure out if my foot was damaged, I thought I’d broken it but it turned out to be seriously bruised,” said Natalie.
“I had Kinna checked over by the vet and she has pulled some muscles and her shoulders are a bit bruised where she knocked herself against the fence as she panicked.”
Natalie has reported the gate to the council.
“It’s very dangerous. I could have fallen off and been trampled, or the bolt could have impaled Kinna. I’m very lucky it was me who got hurt and not her, it would have been carnage if it had gone into her side and there was no one there to help,” said Natalie.
“I’ve had problems before with other gates and people tying pallets to them or putting electric fencing next to them so you can’t get through. You report one thing and something else crops up.”
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Natalie said there is a lack of knowledge among riders and landowners.
“People don’t know what the gates on bridleways should be like – I didn’t know until I read the British Horse Society guidance. A lot of people hack out and see a gate and think that’s normal, and landowners think because no one has complained there’s no problem. I think riders need to be aware of their rights when it comes to public rights of way,” she said.
“Gates don’t have to be expensive. I prefer a large cattle gate to a small one. Because I have a big horse she hates the little gates.”
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire County Council said: “We are aware of the defective gate and are taking appropriate action with the landowner concerned to restore public access as soon as possible. We have kept the resident who reported the issue informed about the council’s proposed action.”
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