An “exceptional” event horse aiming for the young horse World Championships suffered a “catastrophic” injury when she was hit and dragged by a flatbed trailer towed by a 4×4, which then left the scene.
On 8 July seven-year-old-mare Trend De La Cruise (Ava), who is based at event rider Vicky Tuff’s yard GHF Equestrian, was 500 yards from home returning from a hack with rider Ellie Barnard when she was struck on Monmouth Road, Monmouthshire. Ava was due to compete in the Barbury CCI3*-S the following day with GHF rider Freddie Powell.
Yard manager Andrew Williams told H&H 19-year-old Ellie heard a vehicle “flying” towards her, and as she looked round the 4×4 towing an Ifor Williams flatbed trailer was beside her.
“Ellie thinks it was going about 60mph. The corner end of the trailer caught Ava, who fell to the floor and was dragged across the road. If it had been six inches lower they would both be dead – the mare’s four legs would have been broken,” he said. “As Ava got up, Ellie had a full view of the vehicle and trailer driving away even faster than they’d hit her.”
Ava, who had suffered a severe wound to her hindquarters, was led home and Andrew immediately took the mare to B&W Equine Vets. Ellie was not injured.
“Our driveway was the next left and our front fields run in line with where it happened, that’s how close to home it was,” said Andrew. “Fred and Vicky were at Barbury with no signal and I was frantically trying to get hold of people.
“The vets X-rayed her hocks and there was nothing broken but because of the swelling they couldn’t X-ray anything higher up. The vet suggested we should consider having her put down and I said absolutely not. I just didn’t want that to happen, I know she’s a fighter. We’ve had her since she was four years old, I know her very well and if there’s any horse that could pull through it was her, so I felt we needed to give her a chance.
“At that point the vets said it’s extremely unlikely she will ever be ridden again but by the Friday evening they’d slightly changed their tune and were remarkably surprised with how well she was coping, but she became very difficult at the vets’ and didn’t want them doing anything to the wound. She came home the following Tuesday and she’s been happy with me dealing with her, she hadn’t left GHF in nearly four years without me so she wasn’t happy being there without me.”
Andrew said Ava’s owners, George and Jane Anderson, and Ellie are “heartbroken” by what happened.
“Ellie is fine physically, but mentally she has to look at Ava every day and see the injury,” said Andrew. “George and Jane are absolutely devastated, Ava was bought after their daughter went travelling and moved abroad. She is like their other daughter. They’re not big owners, they’re local people with one horse and they love coming eventing.”
Ava stepped up to three-star level this year and jumped double clear in the Nunney International Horse Trials CCI3*-S with Freddie. She was being aimed at the FEI World Breeding Federation Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Lion d’Angers, France, in October, with the hope of being selected for the British team.
“At every stage in her career she’s been where she should be and she’s always been competitive. She did the five-year-old championships at Osberton with Vicky, then did two-star as a six-year-old with Fred. She’s come out this year and jumped clear around every intermediate she’s done and we’d planned on an advanced later this year,” said Andrew.
“Fred was hoping to take her to the Blenheim eight- and nine-year-olds next year. We know things can go wrong, but we were planning her first five-star as a 10-year-old. Everybody is just devastated.”
Andrew shared a video online showing Ava’s injuries and hopes to raise awareness of what can happen on the roads.
“I felt I needed to put it online. These things happen all the time and they shouldn’t. Unless you see the aftermath of a horse that’s been hit by a vehicle it doesn’t sink in,” he said.
“I think I could have been more forgiving if the driver had stopped. There was no reason to be going that fast, especially with a trailer. There are double white lines so he shouldn’t have been overtaking, and if he was going to go past her he could have gone on the other side of the road – there were no other cars and it’s a straight road. None of us have hacked out since. We’ve been here for 10 years and we’ve never had any problems before.”
The team are taking things “day by day” with regard to Ava’s injuries.
“She only comes out of the stable for me to clean the wound and I walk her for five minutes twice a day. We still don’t know whether it will heal and if it does, whether she’ll be sound or be able to be ridden again,” said Andrew.
“She could recover, and a miracle could happen or in a week’s time the vet could say she needs to be put down. So we’re still no further ahead – we just don’t know. It’s horrible to see her like this and all we can do is our best to try and make her as good as we can. She’s a hardy and tough mare, it’s what makes her so good; she’s everything a mare is, good and bad, but it’s what makes her exceptional. We’ll do whatever we need to do to try and give her a recovery of some sort.”
Riders can report any problems with a road or off-road user, slippery road surfaces, dogs, low-flying aircraft, nuisance drones or
“After the incident the driver is reported to have sped off. It's thought the car was left without a wing
A Gwent Police spokesman told H&H the driver came forward the day of the incident and enquiries are ongoing.
“Anyone who may be able to assist our investigation with information, or has CCTV or dashcam footage, is asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log reference 209 08/07/21,” he said.
“You can also contact us via social media on Facebook or Twitter, or you can report any information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.