A rider has spoken out about a frightening “unprovoked attack” in which a driver nearly reversed into her, opened her window and swore at her, then deliberately drove at her mare’s legs.
Emma Falango was riding her four-year-old Friesian mare Ellie-Sue, with Rachel Frost on her veteran mare Ria, on Chipping Sodbury High Street, Bristol, on Sunday morning (23 January) when a driver reversed out of a parking space, and nearly hit Rachel and Ria.
Emma, who was behind Rachel, told H&H the driver then drove forwards and reversed out again, nearly hitting Ellie-Sue. The driver then opened her window and swore at Emma and Rachel.
“After we went past, the woman reversed out and was behind us revving her engine, inches from Ellie-Sue’s back legs. She suddenly swerved, and as she did the car touched Ellie-Sue’s tail and she spooked into the road,” Emma said.
“I managed to pull Ellie-Sue up but she was jumping up and down on the spot and was terrified. We had to ride back to the yard and it was 20 minutes of hell. I always thank drivers when they’re going past but I couldn’t take my hands off the reins; by the time we got back Ellie-Sue was a ball of sweat.”
A passer-by who witnessed the incident gave Emma the car’s registration plate and Emma has reported it to the police and the British Horse Society.
“It was a completely unprovoked attack. I have a brain condition, encephalitis [a rare condition that causes inflammation] and if I had come off I could have died. I also keep thinking what if the car had hit Ellie-Sue, she is the nicest, kindest mare and we’ve got such a good bond,” said Emma.
“We live in a horsey area and the high street was really quiet as it was a Sunday morning. Although Ellie is young we often go out by ourselves or I’ll long-rein her and she is really good in traffic but this has undone all that hard work. She’s not been the same since it happened, we’re going to need to work on rebuilding her confidence but I’m frightened to go back on the road.”
Emma would like to see more action taken against dangerous drivers and believes they should have to attend education courses about driving around horses, and that more fines should be issued.
“There is no excuse for what happened, Ellie-Sue was covered in high-vis and there is no way you couldn’t see her,” said Emma. “Drivers need to be more respectful of horse riders and cyclists, at the end of the day we’re real people – and if we fall that could be a life gone.”
A spokesman for Avon & Somerset Police said officers are investigating the incident
“Officers received an online report that a motorist reversed out of a parking bay apparently unaware of two horses which were being ridden along the High Street near to the Spar. The woman driving the silver Audi TT reportedly verbally abused the riders and drove on close to the horses causing one to spook.
“The driver, any witnesses or anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage which could help is asked to call 101 and give the collision reference 2022/381.”
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