A rider who was hit by a car just weeks after her sister had a near miss in exactly the same spot is pushing for better driver education to improve safety for everyone.
Katie Margarson and racehorse Luna Wish were hit from behind while on a horse crossing in Newmarket’s St Mary’s Square on 29 May. The accident happened just weeks after her sister, Rosie Margarson, launched a Government petition to improve driver education and called for more warning signs in Newmarket after having a number of close calls, including a near miss where Katie and Luna were hit.
“The filly is one of the sweetest, well behaved horses, and we were on our way home,” Katie told H&H.
She explained other cars had stopped and she was halfway across the road when she noticed a car pulling out of the junction. She added that this in itself wasn’t unexpected, as people often use the pause in traffic when horses are crossing to get out of the junction.
But the car continued straight into the horse, hitting Luna’s legs and the horse’s body ended up on the bonnet, smashing the windscreen.
Katie managed to stay on board and Luna shot forwards onto the pathway, which was luckily clear of pedestrians.
“It’s not lucky to be hit by a car, but it was lucky that it wasn’t worse,” said Katie. “It was lucky that I stayed on her and managed to stop.”
Katie was very shaken and instantly hopped off to check the mare, call the vet and assess what to do next.
“I’m normally very good in a crisis,” she said, explaining you have to be prepared to deal with all kinds of situations when working with horses.
“In my head I have a folder for everything and I expect the unexpected to happen, but there was no folder for being hit by a car.
“I saw the car and thought ‘there’s no way that car can be that damaged and for there to be this much blood and that this horse is going to be fine’.”
Thankfully, neither Katie nor the filly were seriously injured. The mare sustained superficial cuts, but is sound and back in work.
Katie thanked everyone who came to their help, including staff from nearby yards. She called the police, who logged the call, but did not attend.
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The rider said watching her hat-cam footage back each day made her realise how many close calls she was having
Katie added the young driver was “absolutely heartbroken” and said that while it was the driver’s responsibility to look where she was going, better education for drivers and more warning signs in the area are the key message.
“The crossing should be so obvious that no driver could possibly get that wrong — it should be like the Blackpool illuminations,” Katie said, adding she just wants to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.
“The driver knows it was her fault, she’s been in to see the horse and we all make mistakes.
“It’s not about ‘rider versus driver’, we all need to work together and make [the way to pass horses and the crossings] so clear for drivers that nobody else ends up in this situation.”
Rosie’s petition to make driving safely around horses part of the driving test has received more than 15,000 signatures in less than a month, and both sisters are continuing to push the message of driver education outside equestrian circles.
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