Horse and rider chased on cross-country by loose dogs in terrifying ordeal

  • The owner of a horse chased during its cross-country round by two dogs owned by another rider has questioned whether dogs should be allowed at events at all.

    Julie Wingfield’s 10-year-old gelding Bally Louis and Holly Richardson were stopped on course in the intermediate at Richmond Horse Trials last Friday (4 September) while the dogs were caught.

    Julie told H&H the event organisers handled the incident admirably, and she is very grateful no one was hurt.

    “It could have ended up with two dead dogs, or a serious if not fatal injury to horse and rider,” she said. “It’s lucky the horse was so focused, and Holly’s such an amazing, cool rider.”

    Julie said the two dogs, one a lurcher type that kept up with Louis, even jumping a hedge behind him and at one point overtaking, belonged to a rider who was walking the course.

    “Holly was first out on course, and for the first couple of fences, she didn’t know what to do,” she said. “It was one of those horrific situations.

    “They were stopped while the dogs were retrieved, then carried on to finish, and came sixth in their section. How Holly kept her cool, I don’t know; it was terrifying to watch.”

    Videos show the dogs’ owners trying to get them back under control, although at one point a third dog can be seen slipping its collar and joining in the chase.

    Julie said the owner came to the lorry to apologise.

    “I can imagine how she felt, you could hear the panic in her voice as she was trying to retrieve the dogs,” she said. “When she came to the wagon to apologise, she was absolutely mortified.

    “We all have horses and dogs but should they really be allowed on cross-country courses? This incident would suggest not.

    “The event was so well organised, an amazing setting with absolutely superb ground, and the owners were absolutely brilliant; they apologised profusely but it wasn’t their fault, and they fined the owner and said they’d donate it to a charity of Holly’s choice, plus they said they’d refund our entry fee, which they didn’t have to do at all but it was a lovely gesture.”

    Event organiser Abigail Turnbull, who owns Richmond with her husband Andrew, told H&H the situation was “unbelievable”.

    “Fortunately, Holly Richardson is a super cool rider and it didn’t put her off,” she said. “Louis, the horse, was amazing too and he wasn’t fazed by the situation. It could have been so much worse and I’m just grateful Holly, Louis and the dogs were all ok.

    “The owners of the dogs were devastated and we did fine them and as a goodwill gesture, I want to reimburse the owners for their BE entry. I’m just waiting for Holly to tell me which charity she wants the fine paying to.

    “Over the three days, I must have asked 10 more people to put their dogs on leads or get them under control, as well as our stewards asking people as well.

    “Everyone blames the dogs for barking or running off or fighting, but if your dog is temperamental or loud, or quick to slip its collar, don’t bring them to events, full stop.”

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