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Couple laughed as dog attacked horse, leaving rider with broken leg

A man and woman laughed as their out-of-control dogs chased a horse, then walked away, leaving his fallen rider with a broken leg.

Fife-based Robyn Healy, a 23-year-old midwife, was returning from a hack with her 15.3hh gelding Jack on 14 July when she saw a man and woman with two children and two dogs – a large breed and a terrier-type – on leads behind her.

Robyn told H&H as she rode into a field, she became aware of the bigger dog, now off its lead, chasing her.

“I couldn’t make out if the smaller one was there too. I shouted to the owners to get their dog and was shouting at it but it didn’t make a difference. It was biting at Jack’s legs and tail,” she said.

“I fell off and Jack took off up the field. The dog kept chasing him and I could hear the owners laughing.”

Robyn said the owners caught their dog then left the area.

“They knew I had fallen. I shouted to them ‘I need help, I’m injured’ and they just walked off and left me there,” she said.

“No one I know could do that – you don’t leave someone. Even if they’d shouted they were going to get help or phone an ambulance but they didn’t even acknowledge me. I tried to get up but my leg was twisted the wrong way and I couldn’t stand.”

The livery yard owner, Louise Docherty, told H&H her friend Tony Bell, found Jack waiting at the gate to the yard without a rider, and knocked at her door. Tony set off to find Robyn, who had rung her friend Erin and an ambulance.

“I asked Erin to go and help Jack, I wasn’t sure if the dog had bitten him so I was so worried about what had happened to him,” she said.

“I knew my leg was broken and phoned the ambulance. By this point I was hysterical with the pain and Tony arrived to help me while the ambulance came.”

Robyn was given painkillers and airlifted to hospital. The next day she underwent surgery on her broken tibia and fibula.

“I’ve had a weight-bearing nail inserted into my leg and it’s very swollen. I’ve been told I won’t be able to do things like drive for eight weeks, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to ride again,” she said. “I’m upset I won’t be able to work, after everything that has gone on with Covid, I feel like I’ll be leaving my team short.”

The incident has been reported to the police and Robyn hopes the dog owners can be found.

“I don’t necessarily want them to get in trouble but I want some kind of acknowledgement or apology. If they had to leave because their children were upset or something I’d understand, but I just need an explanation, anything other than nothing,” she said.

“Dog owners need to keep their dogs on leads and be aware if they’re not good at coming back. I love dogs and have them myself, but people need to realise what can happen.”

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Louise added that there have been previous incidents involving dogs in the area.

“We can’t stop people coming on to the land because people have a right to roam [in Scotland] and there are always going to be dog walkers but people need to keep them on leads if their dogs don’t obey recall,” she said.

“This incident has made us all think about going out alone again. Robyn was wearing high-vis which meant Tony could see her lying in the grass. We’re so thankful she had been wearing high-vis and had her mobile phone.”

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