Carriage driver and groom thrown from vehicle after loose dogs chase pony

A carriage driver who was thrown from her vehicle when her pony was chased by dogs has said multi-user routes won’t work unless everyone plays their part.

Sue Hamley-Richards of North Pembrokeshire and groom Jane Howell attended the opening ceremony of a multi-user route between Narberth and Haverfordwest, held by Pembrokeshire County Council and charity Sustrans, on 1 August.

“After the opening Jane and I went for a drive with my six-year-old Welsh-section C Liam along the route,” Sue told H&H. “When we approached a shaded area I noticed a loose collie dog on the right and saw a man with three more collies up ahead.

“I steadied Liam and as we approached the man called his dogs and they went to him. I thanked the man and commented how brilliant his dogs were, but then the dogs rushed underneath Liam.”

Sue said Liam reacted as if he had been bitten by one of the loose dogs.

“The four dogs were rushing around Liam’s heels and he panicked. He was bucking and kicking and I think he got his leg caught over a trace, then he bolted with the dogs following,” she said.

“I was trying to steer and Jane fell out the side. I think the harness must have got caught while Liam was panicking but thankfully the dogs dropped back. Liam headed towards a bank, I fell out of the carriage and Liam got stuck in some trees.”

Jane, who suffered bruising, caught Liam while the dog owner called an ambulance for Sue.

“I realised I could move and the ambulance was cancelled. I had whiplash and bruised ribs, but I was more worried about Liam,” said Sue.

“The dog owner told me he regularly sees horses on his walks and his dogs have always been fine. Then he was gone. But it doesn’t matter if they’ve always been fine – they weren’t this time.

“I long-reined Liam back to the car park which settled him down. I reported the incident to the police, the dog warden and the British Horse Society. Things could have been a lot worse, there could have been children or families ahead. It’s really knocked my confidence and I’m sure it’s knocked Liam’s – I’ve not put him back in a carriage yet.”

Sue said multi-user routes are “wonderful”, but everyone needs to “play their part”.

“It’s great horses are being included on some routes. We don’t want to lose access by making enemies and have people say it’s simpler if we’re not there. The dog owner probably thought his dogs were so well trained they wouldn’t do anything, but the fact is they did – had they been on a lead this might not have happened,” she said.

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“We all need to be aware of each other – there could be walkers; cyclists; wheelchair users, riders and carriage drivers using the route. For multi-user routes to work everyone needs to be responsible – they won’t work if people think they’re the only ones using it.”

A spokesman for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We received a call from a member of the public to report an incident where four dogs had attacked a pony in the Canaston Wood area. The caller was advised to call again if they were able to identify the owner of the dogs.

“Police would remind all dog owners to ensure they are on leads when there is potential of causing harm or distress to other animals.”

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