The mother of a 10-year-old girl who became “impaled” on her saddle when her pony fell on her in the ring has thanked all those who came to her aid.

Emma Ross’s daughter Annabelle had come third in the junior horsemanship championships at the National Side Saddle Show at Addington Manor on Saturday (4 August) when things went “horribly wrong”.

Annabelle and her 13-year-old sister Jessica, who came sixth, were given their rosettes and completed their lap of honour then Annabelle, on her pony Caereini The Jazz Singer, went to collect her trophy.

“The top two were doing their lap of honour, then they got caught up in a prize-giving horror. It was one of those freak accidents – the ponies somehow got piled together, Annabelle’s pony fell on top of her and impaled her on the side-saddle,” mum Emma told H&H.

“They’d done so brilliantly, all that was left was the Saturday night disco, then all I could see was the pony’s foot in the air, and I thought: ‘Where’s Annabelle?’”

Annabelle was caught between the pommel of the saddle and the ground, suffering fractured ribs and a lacerated liver.

“Luckily one of the mums was a trauma nurse and another a paediatric nurse,” Emma said. “And they had an ambulance there too already for someone else.”

Annabelle was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, and has now been allowed home to Northamptonshire, albeit in a wheelchair and with instructions to rest.

“Jazz” is “sore, but being well looked after”.

“A lovely girl walked him and iced him,” Emma said.

“The kindness of people was amazing. Friends who lay on the arena with my daughter while her habit was cut off, officials who shielded the team working on her, the paramedics who had to work in the boiling heat, grandparents and friends who cared for my ponies and got them home safely.

“The photographer gave photos to us, and Annabelle must have had 200 letters and cards from people at the show; the secretary asked everyone who asked how she was to write their message down and sent them to us – which made all the difference in the world.”

Emma said Annabelle is “sore and quiet” and “just wants to see her pony”, and she is hoping very much to be back on board for the side-saddle demonstration in which she and Jessica are due to take part at Blenheim next month.

“We’ll just have to see about that!” Emma said.


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“But I am truly humbled by the ‘side-saddle family’, many who I have never met before, from the highest level, who pulled together. There were even people Facetiming Annabelle to Jazz from his stable while she was in hospital.

“Luckily a lacerated liver and fractured ribs will heal, a shattered side-saddle and a habit can hopefully be replaced, and the [weeks] of no riding should pass quickly.

“Annabelle and Jazz will definitely be back to contend another side-saddle class, and will definitely make it to the Saturday night disco at next year’s nationals!”

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