‘A bit of a miracle’: stables ‘obliterated’ by fallen tree – but horses walk out unharmed

  • The owner of two horses who walked out of stables that had been “obliterated” when a tree fell on them said it is a miracle they were both unhurt.

    Jenny Naylor-Davis found the fallen tree crushing the building when she arrived at her yard early on Sunday morning (10 December). She told H&H that although she and her daughter could see Jenny’s horse Jumpy, and hear him neighing, her daughter’s pony Indie was out of sight.

    “It was really traumatic,” she said. “We had gone through with my daughter that her pony was probably dead; we were crying for three hours. But they seem both to be ok, which is a bit of a miracle.”

    Jenny said she and her daughter arrived at the yard they own near Liphook, five minutes from their home, at about 5.15am as they were going to a show, which Jenny was also running and course-building for.

    “I fell over something in the dark and blamed one of the kids for leaving something out,” Jenny said. “We turned our torches on and saw the tree had fallen. It was horrid; it didn’t look like there would be any horses alive in there.”

    Jenny called the fire brigade and her vet. The first crew to arrive, from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service, had to call the specialist animal rescue team.

    “We had lots of people there – but no one could see the pony,” Jenny said. “We didn’t know if she was alive for three hours. My horse was whinnying so we knew he was alive, although we couldn’t get to him, but we couldn’t see or hear the pony.”

    The crews discussed the best way to free the horses; it was not safe for the vet to go in to sedate them so the tree had to be stabilised and the building shored up before any rescue attempt.

    “My horse had his head stuck down; the roof had caved in and he was stuck under it,” Jenny said. “We weren’t allowed in to sedate him because it was too dangerous; it was so traumatic.

    “Eventually, we were able to get in to sedate my horse, through a hole, and managed to reverse him out.

    “This was two and a half to three hours in. Then one of the firefighters thought he could see the pony’s rug. We thought she was dead, and pinned against the wall – but then we saw the rug move.”

    All that was visible of Indie’s rug was the Masta logo. Jenny had to Google which way this faced on the rug, to know which way round the pony was standing.

    “We couldn’t get her out through my horse’s stable as what was left of it was supporting the tree, and we couldn’t get her out the other side because she was stuck in a two-foot gap where the roof had caved in,” she said. “In the end they used a ‘jaws of life’ tool to get her out, and we got some sedation in her bottom. Slowly, with lots of people helping, she came out. It was just amazing.”

    Jenny said that Jumpy, a 16-year-old gelding she has owned 11 years, and who has competed at the Badminton grassroots championships four times, “was a legend”.

    “He didn’t panic, he was like Lassie; whinnying for help but staying calm,” she said.

    “Indie, who my daughter has also qualified for Badminton next year, can be difficult to handle, but she let us do everything to get her out.”

    Jenny was full of gratitude for the “amazing” work of the teams to rescue her horses.

    “The stables were completely obliterated; I don’t know how they survived,” she said. “We’re so happy, but still shocked. We’ve had those stables 40 years and they’d been fine through high winds, even the 1987 hurricane. But they’re quite solid so although they’re crushed, they weren’t in matchsticks, because then the horses would both have been dead.”

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