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‘I won’t let my horse die for nothing’: heartbroken owner’s determination to make roads safer

The devastated owner of a horse who suffered fatal injuries in a road collision says she is determined to prevent anyone else going through the same heartbreak.

Francesca Kennedy’s 11-year-old Irish gelding Bart was catastrophically injured last Wednesday, 30 December, when Francesca and her best friend Hannah were out near their yard in Clifton, Cumbria.

Francesca told H&H she has set up a fund, Bart’s Legacy, which she and Hannah intend to use to campaign for safer roads.

“I’m determined to make a change,” she said. “If I can save one horse, or one rider, I’ve hit my goal.”

Francesca said she and Hannah had planned a quiet walk, as their horses had worked hard the day before. They were moments away from turning for home when, Francesca said, “all of a sudden, we were hit”.

“The next minute, I was on the floor, and the horse was on the floor,” she said. “He was in so much pain; I remember looking at him and he was screaming out, I don’t know if he was looking for me.

“I couldn’t move and I think the most traumatic part is that I couldn’t get to him, and be next to him.”

Francesca suffered tendon and ligament injuries and nerve damage, and has been told she will need six to eight weeks to recover.

“But that’s nothing compared to my horse,” she said. “It’s my heart that’s the worst.”

Francesca described her 17hh gelding, who she had owned for two years, as “my real-life unicorn”.

“Horses like him just don’t come around,” she said. “He was incredible. When you pick a horse, and the horse picks you, there’s a bond you can’t explain, and that’s what we had.

“We called him the nanny on the yard as he took the younger ones out; he was bombproof, and he saved my life.

“He took the whole brunt of the impact; I don’t know why I’m still here, or why he was taken from me but without him, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Francesca praised her “amazing” vets, who had Bart sedated and pain-free within 10 minutes of the accident, and the “incredible” Great North Air Ambulance Service, for which she is also raising money.

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She said she and Hannah will use the legacy funds to campaign for safer roads.

“The pair of us are making it our mission for 2021 to target schools, approach the council, work with the British Horse Society, hold events; we will do what it takes,” she said.

“I need to do something, and I will. I’m determined, to save horses’ lives and people’s lives, because no one deserves to lose their horse like I lost mine.

“We are going to make a difference because I’m not going to let my horse die for nothing.”

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