‘I thought I was going to land on the bonnet’: spooked horse jumps fence on to 40mph road

  • A rider who was badly injured when her horse was spooked by traffic is urging others to download the location app that allowed ambulance crews to find her.

    Dot Cuy fell on to the road when her 13-year-old part-Shire Cookie uncharacteristically reared while hacking on 30 April. A passer-by used the what3words app to identify their location, meaning help was on the scene quickly.

    Dot told H&H she is on the road to recovery.

    “I’d say I’m about 60-70% better,” she said. “In a parallel universe, if there is such a thing, I could have died — but apparently, I survived.”

    Dot was riding Cookie in Ruislip Woods, just outside London, when they came across a runner.

    “He had the best intentions to let us pass but I don’t think he understood animal behaviour,” she said. “He was waving his arms above his head but that was making him bigger and Cookie was spooked.”

    Dot managed to get Cookie forward and past the runner, then they came to a road crossing.

    “There’s a button to press to stop the traffic; a high-up one for horses,” Dot said. “But because it’s a bridleway each side, there are S-shaped wooden fences. The button was right in front of Cookie’s face and he must have felt cornered and not known what to do so he reared really high, which he’d never done. He must have then tried to escape the situation because he jumped sideways, over the fence and on to the 40mph road, and there were cars coming.”

    Dot said that as she fell, she could see a car approaching.

    “I thought I was going to land on the bonnet,” she said. “But it managed to turn at the very last minute and avoid me. It went on to the other lane and there was another car coming, but it managed to stop at the right time. Luckily, I still had my reins so Cookie couldn’t go anywhere; I was right in front of his feet so if he’d reared again, I would have died. The car that stopped, its bonnet must have only been a foot away from my head.”

    Dot said the cars’ occupants came to her aid, including some who had equestrian experience and were able to lead Cookie away.

    “My whole body was shaking; it took me a few seconds to realise I was still alive,” she said.

    Nigel Ealand saw what happened as he was running through the woods, and called an ambulance, using what3words to give Dot’s location.

    “Once I got a hold of the emergency services call centre, I ended up speaking with a woman in Aberdeen, who had absolutely no local knowledge of the area the accident had occurred in,” he said. “Describing my location on Ducks Hill road near the car park entrance was far too vague, which is when a light bulb went off; I had downloaded what3words for emergencies, I might as well use it!

    “I gave her my what3words address (///cheat.indeed.dome), and the ambulance arrived within minutes – it was unbelievable. The girl was whisked away to hospital, and the horse, who was very distressed and nervous, was taken back to the stables.”

    In the what3words app, the world is divided into 57 trillion 3mx3m squares, each of which has a unique three-word combination. Emergency services are among those urging people to download the app so they can be located in an emergency.

    Dot was taken to hospital, where it was found she had torn two ligaments in her ankle, dislocated a toe, and fractured the side of her foot.

    “All in all, I came out of it well, as I could have died; I’ve got no complaints,” she said.

    “I’m very grateful that one of the ladies who took Cookie knew exactly what to do and helped calm him down, but I could hear him calling for me. It wasn’t the pain that made me cry, it was him looking at me and calling for me, and not knowing what to do – it was heartbreaking. But he was fine.”

    Dot is now recommending the app to as many people as possible.

    “I was in hospital till the next day so I had a lot of time, and I downloaded it then,” she said. “I’d heard about it and thought it was a good idea but since the accident, I completely understand the importance of having it,” she said. “After the accident, I was in Milan on a company day and my boss couldn’t find us; he asked in the WhatsApp group if anyone had the app and I thought ‘Aha’! So it’s not just for accidents either.

    “I’ve also shared it in a Facebook group I’m in for people from Hong Kong and living in Britain, so I like to think I’ve done my bit in raising awareness of how important it is.”

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