Horseowners are being warned to check their fencing regularly following a recent incident where a pony found its way onto a major road and was hit by a lorry after apparently squeezing through a gap in a hedge.
The 10-year-old family pony stepped on to the A350 near Westbury, adjacent to the field it shared with other horses, straight into the path of a lorry. The driver escaped injury, but the pony had to be put down as a result of its injuries.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Horsewatch, which was set up earlier this year, says: “We are appealing to everyone to check gates, fencing and especially hedges — at this time of year they are thinning out and this creates gaps.”
Wendy Peckham of the BHS agrees and told HHO: “Paddock fencing of all types should be checked on a regular basis throughout the year, and even more regularly at this time of year in particular.
“As the leaves fall gaps can easily develop in hedges and as most paddocks have a lack of grass following the long dry summer, some horses may feel the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and squeeze through a tempting gap.
“We are very sorry to hear about this tragic tale and urge all horse horse owners to check their boundaries regularly.”
Better safe than sorry
Gavin Strathern, a freelance agricultural contractor and specialist in pasture management says although there are no overnight solutions to creating a thick, horse-proof hedge, there are some simple solutions which can help owners get through the winter safely.
“If your hedge is thin in places and you are concerned that your horse may try to push through, try inserting rails deep into the hedge structure to strengthen those areas, or alternatively construct a post and rail fence across the gap,” suggests Gavin.
“Electric fencing is another option, but the best solution is regular maintenance of the hedge itself. Most people don’t trim hedges frequently enough — the more you cut it, the more it will grow and the thicker it will become.
“Also when you cut the hedge don’t just trim the top off square, give it a ‘roof-like’ top which will encourage the hedge to thicken up down the sides as well as on the top. The best way of improving a hedge is to get a professional in to ‘lay’ it.”