A woman who watched in terror as her horse was chased into the sea by a dog whose owner refused to call it off hopes will be able to identify the culprit.
Tracey Berryman took her niece, Milly Evans, to Exmouth beach with her 16.1hh British sport horse mare Spring on 7 January when a Hungarian Vizsla escaped from its owner and chased Spring causing Milly to fall off.
Tracey told H&H: “Milly has been riding Spring for around a year and takes lessons on her. She had just turned 17 the previous day and had always wanted to ride along the beach and it was the last day before she went back to school. Milly helps with Spring in all weathers so I took her as a reward.
“We walked to a deserted part of the beach where she had a couple of canters and we took some photos in the sea, then walked back to the trailer.”
Tracey said on their way back a tan-coloured dog “flew out of nowhere”.
“It was lunging at Spring’s back legs; she kept spinning round to try to face it. You could hear its jaws snapping but credit to Spring; she didn’t kick out,” she said.
“I shouted to the owner: ‘please call off your dog’ but he said ‘no, I won’t’.”
Milly fell off Spring during the incident.
“The dog took off after Spring – all I could think was her hitting someone, or going up on to the road. She galloped into the sea until the water was level with her back, I thought she was going to keep swimming out,” said Tracey.
“There were people on the beach trying to help and blowing whistles to try to call off the dog – it was hunting my horse, it was terrifying seeing it lunge up at her.”
Tracey said the dog eventually lost interest and ran off.
“People stayed with Milly who was still on the floor and winded and I ran to get Spring,” she said
“Someone confronted the man and asked how the rider was and he just shrugged and walked off. I could see him in the distance and he was beating his dogs.”
Spring was unharmed but Milly suffered bruising.
“My sister took her to hospital. She hasn’t broken anything but the doctors said she may have chipped a bone in her pelvis but there isn’t anything they can do for that apart from painkillers,” said Tracey. “I’m amazed Spring doesn’t have bite marks, she was so nimble evading the dog.
“Milly got back on Spring this Sunday (13 January), she’s a very brave and competent rider. She absolutely loved her time on the beach before that happened, the worst part for her was seeing a dog attacking the horse she loves.”
Tracey said she won’t go back to Exmouth beach.
“Milly could have broken something, or Spring could have kicked the dog. How would I feel if that had happened? All the man had to do was call his dog off and the worst thing is, he point-blank refused,” she said.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people since the incident and people have said they recognise the man. I hope he is identified, he needs to be made an example of.”
Police are appealing for video footage after the rider was chased for 15 minutes
‘The man was attacking me and I thought, the dog’s going to join in in a minute, and I’m going
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
A spokesman for Devon & Cornwall Police said investigations are ongoing, and asked anyone with information or video footage to come forward.
Police are keen to retrieve any footage of the incident and to identify and talk to this man,” the spokesman said.
The man is described as white, aged between 60 and 65, wearing a green waxed jacket, corduroy trousers and a checked flat cap.
Anyone with information is asked to email email@example.com or call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 quoting CR/2334/19.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.