The owner of a former rescue horse who was chased by quad bikers along roads, into a ditch and into a wall said those responsible need to realise how serious the consequences could have been.
Peri Thomas’s 12-year-old gelding Jim fell twice as he tried to escape from the bikes, whose riders surrounded him, “whooping and shouting” as he galloped along the road.
Peri told H&H she and a friend were riding along a country lane they use frequently on Sunday (24 March), when they saw the bikes coming. The pair hesitated to see where they planned to go, and the bikers waved them out of a junction.
“To our surprise, they then came up behind us,” Peri said. “They were waving us to go ahead and we thought maybe they were going to turn into a field.
“We trotted on to get out of the way – and they started getting closer and closer, coming up behind us and revving their engines.
“It spooked my horse, who shot off, and they thought that was hilarious – they chased after us, whooping and shouting about how fast he was going, waving their arms and coming up next to us.”
Peri managed to get Jim under control and pulled into a gateway, hoping the bikers would ride away. But they followed her, circling Jim and shouting.
“It was like it was great fun to them,” Peri said. “I got off and was holding him but as they got closer, he reared up and up. I was trying to hold on but ended up slipping underneath him.
“He was so good; he really tried not to stand on me but he was jumping about with me underneath – I had to let go.”
Peri said her memory of the next few minutes is somewhat hazy, but she was given a lift by a passing driver to follow her horse, who had taken off again with the bikes in pursuit.
She managed to grab Jim but again the bikes circled and again, he took off, heading towards a main road.
“I was shouting at them, saying please stop, it isn’t a game; someone’s going to die,” Peri said. “But they didn’t and he shot off again.”
By that time, people at the yard, which was nearby, had heard the commotion.
“The bikers chased him over the brow of a hill, which is really steep,” Peri said. “He’d already fallen into a ditch and gone right over, got back up, then the hill’s so steep, he couldn’t stop himself crashing into a wall at the bottom.
“They saw him fall twice, get up and go galloping on towards the main road, and they didn’t stop.”
The yard manager and others managed to divert Jim into the yard, while the bikers “shot off”.
“The yard manager thought he was a goner when she saw him,” Peri said. “The vet was amazed too; she thought he’d be worse but it’s only surface wounds to his back legs, and bruising.”
Peri reported the matter to North Yorkshire Police and officers are investigating. And although she has been told her horse should not suffer any long-term physical effects, she believes the psychological damage may have been done.
“He’s a rescue who I got from the RSPCA and it’s taken me years to get him confident on the roads – that’s the end of that,” she said.
“For them to keep coming after us when I’d been underneath him and he’d fallen twice – it was like it gave them more of a thrill the worse it got.
“I want to raise awareness, in riders but also to let the bikers know how serious it could have been, to make them realise what they’ve done, and the damage they could have caused.”
CCTV images of the bikers have been shared on social media, and Peri hopes this might help bring them to justice.
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“I think what we want to do is raise awareness so we can help the police progress this case in the right way,” she said.
“It would be great if there was a positive outcome from the community all working together, which it feels like the social media campaign has started. Rather than getting frustrated that there is a group causing dangerous, anti-social behaviour all over the area and getting away with it again and again.”
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said it is thought the group may have travelled from the Bradford area, having been sighted in Queensbury at around 1.30pm. It is believed they then headed towards Keighley, going through Laycock and Sutton-in-Craven to Crosshills, before going towards Draughton where the incident occurred, at about 3.50pm.
Following the incident it is thought they travelled back to the Bradford area via Addingham and Ilkley.
The spokesman added: “This was a serious incident, which could have resulted in life-changing injury to the rider and horse. Any photographs, videos, dashcam, CCTV footage or information that could help identify this group would be gratefully received.”
Anyone with information is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference 12190053024.
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