‘My hat saved me’: rider trampled in dog attack

  • A rider who was trampled when her horse was spooked by a loose dog has credited her Gatehouse hat for “saving her head”.

    Viv Spencer was walking her homebred mare Toynton Zaraah on a long rein in a field at her Lincolnshire home last Wednesday (17 January) when she saw a man walking a dog on the other side of the hedge.

    “Zaraah did a little spook, I leaned forward to pat her and the next thing I knew, she absolutely exploded,” Viv told H&H.

    “She went bolt upright, I’ve never known her do anything like it.

    “I came flying off, she stood on my leg and clipped my head with her back foot as she galloped off.”

    Viv did not see the dog, a greyhound, attack, but believes it might have bitten Zaraah, owing to her extreme reaction.

    “She just went up in the air, then off in a blind panic,” she said. “She’s used to dogs but I didn’t even see this one; it must have been going at a hell of a speed.”

    Zaraah stopped by Viv’s trailer and had only suffered a small cut, but Viv herself was less lucky.

    “I was just thinking ‘is the horse all right?’” Viv said.

    “I didn’t realise she’d stood on my leg until I saw the hoof-shaped bruise. I didn’t think to look at my hat, then I took it off and realised why my head was so sore; it was totally smashed.

    “We’ve all been there when it’s hot or you’re just at home or you don’t put your hat on for whatever reason, but I was just walking round to cool off, and my hat saved me. Without it, there’s no way I’d have survived that force.”

    Viv reported the incident to police, who paid the dog’s owner a visit and asked him to apologise to Viv, which he did, also giving her a cheque to cover the cost of a new hat.

    Continues below…

    “The police were amazing,” she said. “Apparently, he said to them he’d seen me limping off so thought I was ok. They went to see him straight after they came here, and [the dog owner] came round that night.

    “It’s just made me think; at a show, I wear a hat all the time, but I’ve had horses here for years and nothing’s ever happened. But my hat did what it should have done.”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...