A well-known breeder and producer is urging competitors to pack their lorries sensibly after a freak accident forced her to offload her horses on the M25.
Shirley Light’s staff were travelling four horses to Arena UK on September 18th when one reared and went down in the lorry (not pictured), becoming stuck under partitions and his travelling companions.
The six-year-old gelding — who is fairly well-travelled — is thought to have panicked going through a dark tunnel near junction 30 of the motorway.
“He ended up down behind and up in front strangling himself with his back end under the stallion next door. Fortunately the lad could get through to him to release his head,” she said.
“He continued freaking out when he dropped down. We had two other horses one side and one the other and we had to call police to close the motorway in both directions so they could unload them all to get him up.”
She added that the only way to unload the mare at the back had been to walk her over the top of the prone horse.
“They couldn’t get Hennessy off without her standing on the gelding. I said they had no choice, she had to stand on him, but to do it as fast as they could. It was a very scary situation.”
In a team operation, Shirley set about trying to track down a local vet from home — “at that point we thought we had at least one that might need putting down” — while she also appealed on social media for anyone nearby to come and help.
“We had three people on the lorry, but they were all needed to get the gelding up,” she said, adding hte police were reluctant to hold the two mares.
Showjumper Simon Crippen was stuck in the tailbacks on his way back from Dover when he saw the post and he ran a mile and a half up the motorway to help, although they’d got the horse out by the time he got there.
“A few other people phoned me to say they were 10-15mins away,” said Shirley. “Mobile phones really came to the fore. We were all Googling different things. I was at home waiting for the vet for a sick horse, so I could only talk them through it.”
The Brendon Stud proprietor has since urged people not to block jockey doors with large items when packing for shows, after spotting several worrying pictures on social media.
“I sat down last night and was flicking through Facebook and I thought that people don’t have a clue how dangerous it is. If my lad hadn’t been able to get into the back, there would have been a different outcome.
“When you buy shavings at a show it’s only a couple of quid extra. It’s not worth blocking doors for the sake of taking them with you.”
Shirley also credited quick release clips with helping save the gelding, as they took just a second to undo.
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“If he’d been tied up with a quick release knot it would probably have been pulled so tight that you wouldn’t have been able to untie it,” she said.
The horse initially seemed to have escaped the accident with just superficial lacerations, but is likely to face further investigation to check he is alright after developing an infection.
“He’s been injured a bit thrashing about, but that he missed the others is amazing,” she said.