Horses who survived horrific road crash spark safety campaign

  • A horrific road accident in which two horses “miraculously” escaped serious injury has sparked positive action aimed at making roads safer for all users.

    Piebald mare Patsy was thrown into the air when an oncoming car ploughed straight into her, and chestnut Fleur, as they were being ridden in Witcham, Cambridgeshire, last March.

    Patsy did “loop the loop” and Fleur was also knocked down. But while Patsy looked “like a patchwork quilt” and “as though she’d walked through a barbed-wire fence” neither mare, nor either of the riders, was seriously hurt.

    Less than a year later, Patsy is back in full work and although Fleur has been retired, this is due to her age rather than the accident.

    The yard at which both mares are kept, Witcham Equestrian Centre, has now secured permission to extend the 30mph speed limit at both ends of the village, and is working with the parish council to raise the £5,000 needed to fund this.

    As part of a campaign called “Keep it slow, keep it safe”, the yard is organising a series of events, aiming to raise money, but also increase awareness and education.

    “The aim of the campaign is ‘promoting harmony in rural communities to create safer roads’,” Jane Hart, of Witcham Equestrian Centre, told H&H.

    “We all have to live together. If we have to go on the roads, which we don’t want to, we have to work with other users, and we want to make it safer for everyone.

    “There are a lot of keen cyclists round here, for example; we have to help them and they have to know how to approach us. It’s all about education, not having a go at people.”

    As well as an awareness evening on 21 April, at which British Horse Society safety director Alan Hiscox will be the speaker, the yard is holding an open day on 20 May and “Patsy’s midsummer party” on 23 June, while “Patsy’s pop-up tea room” will open at the yard on some Saturdays.

    Fleur is now retired

    “Everyone still goes up to Patsy every day to give her a hug because we can’t believe she’s still here with us,” Ms Hart said. “Fleur’s enjoying her retirement and is happy; it’s wonderful they’re both still here.

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    “The accident opened our eyes to what’s going on on the roads; we’ve learned a lot.

    “We’d been talking about getting the speed limit changed for a long time, and it made us get organised. It was the catalyst that made us go for it.”

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