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A rider who was attacked by a swan while out hacking has sworn not to pass the pond concerned in future.

Carolyn Bentley and her horse Badger fell when the bird flew at them, near Guildford, Surrey, on 6 May.

Mrs Bentley was passing the pond with a friend en route to a bridleway.

“Other riders have passed these swans and they’ve not batted an eyelid,” she said.

“But this time, the male came towards us, flapping strongly as it tried to take off, and hissing.

My horse, and my friend’s, shot out back on to the road and set off for home at a gallop. I was so grateful a lorry or something was not coming.”

swan attack 05

Badger, a 15.1hh cob, slipped and fell to his knees on the road, with Mrs Bentley stuck underneath.

“Then I don’t remember much until my friend said ‘Don’t move, we’ve got to get him off you,’” explained Mrs Bentley.

“We had slid a good four or five feet along the road before we came to a standstill and Badger was sitting on my chest.

“He was so good picking himself off me neatly. He looked as dazed as me – he had a huge chunk of skin peeled back above the left eye, and a graze on a leg, but otherwise he got away with it.

swan attack 01

“Thankfully, there was one very, very helpful driver who flagged down other cars. I managed to get up – my friend was amazed I was standing. Then she said ‘You wait till you see your hat!’

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“When I looked at it another wave of nausea came over me. I cannot praise Harry Hall enough – I thought the whole hat would be crushed in – it has definitely saved my life, but you still see people riding without them.”

swan attack 02

Mrs Bentley went to hospital but had suffered only grazes and bruised ribs. She has no plans to pass the pond again.

“We are now losing half of our hacking unfortunately, but for me it’s a no-go zone for now. I love swans but this pair are in the wrong place,” says Mrs Bentley.

“I just want to get the message across to riders to wear a good hat. They really are lifesavers.”

Max Wakefield, Harry Hall’s development director, said: “We at Harry Hall R&D team undertake rigorous testing but nothing can really replicate what happens in the field. Therefore, stories like these are reward enough for the effort, time and expertise we put into safety products, and into spreading the word about safety through our current Serious About Safety Tour.”