A horse and rider were lucky to escape without serious injury in a fall on the road.
Camilla Swift was crossing the road in Epsom on 15 December when the filly she was riding was startled by a fast van, spooked and fell. None of the passing cars stopped to help.
Camilla, who was riding out for Roger Ingram at the time, told H&H they were at a road crossing to get to the Downs.
She said two people hit the “bop it” button to activate the horse crossing traffic lights and it lit up as if it had worked, but as they crossed the road, the lights in fact had not changed.
“There was nothing coming, so we went to cross and as we were, a van came off the roundabout,” she explained.
“There were three of us in high-vis jackets and high-vis numnahs, and we asked him to slow down but he didn’t.”
She added they made it off the road, but the speed startled the horse she was riding, who slipped and fell down onto the road they just had crossed.
“I think in a way the traffic lights don’t help as drivers stop for red, but they don’t stop if it’s green even if there’s something in the road,” said Camilla, adding that they are not riding on the roads, but do have to cross them to get to the training grounds.
“I don’t know if the van driver saw, but other cars did see what happened and had to slow down, but none of them stopped.”
The mare bolted home bucking, crossing another main road, and thankfully escaped unscathed while Camilla had concussion and a sore neck. One lady caught up with them in her car to say she had seen the horse and had missed hitting her, but that was the only offer of help they had from road users.
“She was just lucky she wasn’t hit; we’ve always said that up there when a horse gets loose you’re listening for the cars and the braking. It was the same place it happened to Gladden [who was fatally injured] in January and a couple of months ago a horse and lad fell there and cars drove round them.”
Horsemen, councillors, the Jockey Club and police are working to improve safety in the area, including a barrier and a downsman at the main entrance to the training ground to prevent loose horses from running on to the road, as happened with Gladden.
“We are pushing everyone to report incidents, and the same for people who keep their horses in Epsom,” added Camilla.
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A statement from trainer Mr Ingram’s Facebook page added the team is proud to train on the Epsom Downs, but need help from the public to keep horses and riders safe.
“The road crossings are getting worse, with cars often speeding up to get through while our horses wait to cross or in fact honking their horns and revving,” he said.
“[On 15 December] what we were dreading happened. Cars wouldn’t stop to let our string cross the road with a van speeding past spooking one of our horses who slipped and landed on the rider, both are fortunately fine but none of the cars stopped to help.
“Please, if you are driving through the Epsom training area, go slowly and stop if you see horses crossing a road (whether traffic lights are red, amber or green) and don’t try to squeeze between two strings of horses.
“If you are walking, cycling or running please stop or give the horses a lot of space.
We love seeing people out in the mornings but for everyone’s safety please try to follow these guidelines.”
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