Leading equine vet speaks out after terrifying hacking incident

  • An equine vet involved in a terrifying hacking incident has pledged to push her case “as far as possible” to raise public awareness of the horrific abuse riders are subjected to on the roads.

    Natalie McGoldrick, H&H’s vet of the year 2017, was hacking her eventer Tricky Johnie near Waterlooville in Hampshire on Tuesday morning (29 May) when she heard a car horn behind her.

    “I was out hacking on a quiet country lane. It’s a single track with some passing places to pull in,” Natalie told H&H.

    “I was on Tricky Johnie, my intermediate horse, who fortunately is my safest one. We were just riding along and I heard a horn sounding quite a distance behind me. I thought ‘that can’t be anything to do with me as it isn’t even close’.”

    She added she heard a few more beeps as the car approached and took her phone out of her pocket as she wanted to record the numberplate.

    Natalie said the driver wound down the windows and started shouting at her. With nowhere to safely let her past, Natalie put her phone away and continued riding towards a layby around 100 yards further up the road where she could pull in.

    As she was riding away, the driver held her hand down on the horn and Jonnie started to become unsettled.

    When Natalie reached the layby, she decided she needed to call the police, so jumped off, dialled 999 and put herself between the horse and the car.

    Natalie said the driver then drove “albeit very slowly” into her legs.

    “What must have been three seconds felt like about a minute — it went through my head that she was going to keep going and I had Johnnie behind me so I couldn’t get out of the way,” said Natalie.

    “I was screaming on the phone to 999, I said ‘she’s hit me’.

    Natalie said the driver reversed back, before pulling forwards into her legs again, clipping Johnnie’s hocks as Natalie tried to walk him away.

    The driver got out of the car, pushing Natalie backwards and then started to pat the horse.

    “It was pretty horrific,” she said, adding nothing much scares her, but Tuesday’s ordeal was “terrifying”.

    I’m a pretty strong person and it shook me up. I’m constantly abused on the roads, but that was a step further.”

    Thankfully both horse and rider were not injured in the incident.

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    Natalie added she was so thankful that she was riding her most sensible horse at the time.

    “If I had been on one of my others, that would be a completely different story,” she said.

    Natalie posted the clip on her Facebook page and it has since gone viral.

    “I posted it thinking that I have a following of a couple of thousand and at least it would make people [in my area] aware,” she said.

    “The reaction has been 99% supportive and encouragement to press police as far as I can go.

    “I don’t have an arena or fields to ride in, my horses do all their work and schooling on the roads. It is a serious sport for me, I have no other way to keep them and this is how the majority of us do keep our horses exercised.

    “I’m going to take this as far as possible — that’s the only way it is going to change is when people realise they can’t get away with doing things like this.”

    A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary told H&H there have been no arrests at this stage.

    “We are investigating an incident involving a car and a horse/rider in Hyden Farm Lane, Waterlooville between 11.05am and 11.14am on 29 May,” he said.

    “Anyone with information about this incident should call 101 quoting 44180198842.”

    • Have you had a bad experience while riding on the roads? Do you think roads are getting more dangerous? Let us know your thoughts by emailing hhletters@timeinc.com and your comments may be published in the letters page in Horse & Hound magazine

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    This week’s edition (31 May) is a training special, including a look at the world’s top trainers and whether you should have multiple coaches. Also check out our summer clothing guide, interview with showjumper and recent winner of the Hamburg Derby, Matt Sampson and feature on health problems in miniature horses 

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