Horse spooked by police vans using blue lights and sirens falls on road: rider calls for more training

The rider of a horse who fell on the road when two police vans passed at speed with their blue lights and sirens on hopes officers will be given training to prevent another similar incident.

Lisa and her five-year-old Arab Dart were almost back at their yard in Barrowford, Lancashire, on 26 February, behind her husband John and his Irish sport horse on the short stretch of road between a bridleway and home, when the vans appeared at high speed round a blind bend.

“They were on us as soon as we came off the bridleway,” Lisa told H&H. “There was a lorry behind me and the driver was trying to slow them down, a livery yard owner I know who was in her field by the road was trying to slow them down.

“I thought ‘They’re going to stop, they’re going to stop’ – but they didn’t.”

Lisa did her best to get out of the way by riding up an embankment but as the first van passed, Dart reared and slipped back down on to the road. 

“The van was so close, it freaked him out completely,” she said. “Somehow, I managed to stay on  – but then the second van came past and I nearly ended up on its wing mirror.”

Lisa said she later heard from the driver of the lorry behind her that the van was centimetres away.

“I felt the air rush past but was more worried about keeping control of my horse,” she said. “But the lorry driver was traumatised – he could see it all and he said he thought I’d be dead in the road, or wrapped round the van.”

The driver, John and others stopped traffic on the road to allow Lisa to dismount and lead her traumatised horse away.

“He just shut down; he was really breathing rapidly, eyes bulging; I thought his heart was going to give out, he was so stressed,” she said.

Lisa started to walk Dart back, but the young horse became so “hysterical” when the traffic started moving again, so the lorry driver again held vehicles up until the pair were home.

As Dart was unhurt, Lisa tried to hack him, with John, the next day but the horse went “ballistic”, so they turned for home. She has since been walking him out in hand, and “covered from head to toe in high-vis”, and he has been calmer.

Lisa emailed Lancashire Police’s customer service team to alert them to the incident, and a member of staff apologised.

“Although he was being apologetic,I’m not sure he grasped how serious it was,” she said. “I got the feeling that without the numberplate, they wouldn’t be able to find the officers, but there must be a log.

“I just want this not to happen to anyone else; if it had been a child, they could have been killed.

“I don’t want someone miles away saying sorry; I want the officers to realise what could have happened and maybe have more training to avoid this happening again. If the members of the public hadn’t been so quick-thinking I wouldn’t be here.”

In an email to Lisa, a member of the force’s customer services team said he understood her concerns.

“It could very well be a training issue and I can raise it with the eastern division for the supervision to make their officers aware of the safety and awareness of this type of incident,” he said. “It is not the standard of driving we would expect from our officers, especially on a blind bend with horses and people on the road.”

The representative said if Lisa managed to obtain the vehicle registration, he would pass it on to the relevant unit.

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“But I will make the team aware of this as this is not the standard of driving we would expect from anyone, let alone police or emergency services in general,” he added.

“Again, I am incredibly sorry that this incident has occurred and I do hope that both you and your horse do not suffer any long-standing trauma.”

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