An H&H reader is appealing for walkers to take more care when using footpaths in paddocks after her horse was injured on a gate.
Mary Emeny, from Scaynes Hill in West Sussex, was shocked to find her three-year-old filly with a huge wound in her side on 5 June.
The three-year-old home bred, called Midwych Skylla, escaped from her field after walkers left a gate unlatched.
Her side was caught on the gate latch, causing a serious wound, 40cm long and 20cm high.
“Walkers untied and left a footpath gate open into our neighbours’ field, even though there is a stile next to the gate,” Ms Emeny told H&H.
“The filly went through the gate but caught her ribcage on the gate hook. She ripped a horizontal gash down to the bone.”
The horse had 500 stitches put in by Cinder Hill Equine Vets.
Vet Hazel Steven, who treated Skylla, told H&H she’d seen similar things in the past, but more commonly leg injuries related to fences.
“She had a serious wound on her flank,” said Ms Steven.
“I imagine a few horses tried to squeeze through and she was caught. It’s the biggest and most traumatic injury of that type I’ve seen — it took seven hours of surgery.
“She’s very lucky the latch didn’t go into her chest or abdomen. It had gone through three layers of muscle and the bone was exposed.
“She’s also fortunate she avoided any complications and has made a good recovery.”
Skylla was then on box rest and treated daily with antibiotics.
“Luckily she is recovering well and we turned her out for the first time on 29 July,” added Ms Emeny.
Skylla is bred to showjump and is being aimed at the four-year-old championship at Hickstead next year.
Ms Emeny is now urging walkers to think about the implications of leaving a gate open.
“The general rule of the countryside is if you find a gate shut then shut it and if open leave it open,” added Ms Emeny. “Be aware of any livestock in the field and respect other people’s land.”
Ms Steven added: “There are so many public footpaths in the area. People need to understand the idea of sharing land as there are so many different groups of people in the area using the paths.”