‘It looked like a massacre’: owner’s tack locker warning

  • The owner of a horse who smashed his way though her lorry roof and windows, “writing off” the interior, wants to warn others of the dangers of tack lockers that intrude into the horse area.

    Amanda Howell’s former racehorse The Copper Jug had always been a good traveller, and loaded well, so she has no idea why he climbed on top of the locker in her recently-bought 7.5t lorry.

    The then eight-year-old gelding had travelled well to the dressage test-riding event, near Amanda’s Berkshire base, but the trouble started before they left the venue to come home.

    “He’d been banging about a bit, then it suddenly went horribly quiet,” Amanda told H&H. “Then the next thing, the knob from the door between the living and the horse bit went flying out and smashed through the windscreen.

    “It seemed to take for ever to get out and round the back, but as Mum went round the passenger side, he came through the window, and covered her in glass.”

    The 17.2hh thoroughbred had climbed on top of the tack locker.

    He broke the roof in two places, smashed the window glass and doors, buckled the door to the living area and damaged the ramp and partitions.

    “Thank God I’d locked the living door or he’d have been in there,” Amanda said.

    “The windows had bars on and I’d assumed they’d be safe for horses, but he’d gone straight through them. All I could see was his front legs hanging through the windows.

    “The ramp was buckled and I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to get it down, I didn’t know how I’d get him out.

    “When I did, there was blood everywhere. It looked like there had been a massacre, but he just climbed back through the window and stood there looking at me, as if nothing had happened.”

    Amanda said the vet who arrived to treat “CJ” was expecting to have to put him to sleep – and had he not been wearing travelling boots, he would probably have caused fatal damage to his tendons.

    But after more than 50 staples and three months of box rest, he made a full recovery.

    Two years on, and he and Amanda have been competing at British Dressage shows, with the aim of eventing in future.

    But Amanda has gone back to a trailer, and wants others to be aware of the potential risks of internal tack lockers.

    “It wasn’t the lorry’s fault, or the manufacturer’s, it just happened, and to this day I don’t know why it did,” she said.

    “I was so lucky. I’d bought that lorry to try to benefit him; he’s 17.2hh but only wears 6’3’’ rugs so I thought it would be better if he didn’t have too much space.

    “The man where I took my lorry for repair, as it had to be rebuilt, said it was the third time that week he’d had one in after a horse got on the locker.

    “He said he’d never build a lorry with a locker in the back – it’s just something for the horse to climb on.”

    Amanda said she “could not thank Donnington Grove vets enough” for their hard work, especially as CJ healed with minimal scarring.

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