Rider attacked by dog and its owner in terrifying assault

  • A rider who was attacked not only by a dog, but by the animal’s owner as well, is to move away from the area as a result.

    Teresa Taverner was returning from a quiet ride on her long-term loan horse Boycie in Coulsdon, Surrey, last Monday (8 October) when she spotted the large dog.

    “I didn’t like the look of it but before I could even think, it just ran at me and bit my leg, going through the boot,” Teresa told H&H.

    “I was really worried that if I fell, it would attack me. Boycie was jumping about, then the dog bit his loin really badly. He reared, I fell off and he went galloping off with the dog chasing him.”

    From her point on the ground, Teresa could see the dog’s owner approaching, the dog’s lead in his upraised hand.

    “I thought he was going to hit me,” she said. “I jumped up and he did hit me.

    “I was calling the police and trying to take his photograph. I was so cross because my poor horse was still galloping about with a dog attached, but then the dog came back – I was more frightened by it than I was of the man.

    “He was attacking me and I thought, the dog’s going to join in in a minute, and I’m going to die – but I wasn’t going to let him get away without getting his picture.”

    Teresa said her attacker was punching her in the chest and trying to prise her phone from her hand, breaking the tip of her finger and damaging the tendons in her arm.

    “I got his picture and then he really hit me,” she said. “The police were on the phone and I wanted them to find me but I was in the woods.

    “Then he pushed me down a bank and I had a moment of clarity. I’m 48, he’s a young man and I knew he was really going to hurt me and I needed to get away.”

    Teresa got back to a road and found the police, who are investigating. Boycie had found a friend of Teresa’s who was out riding, so he was taken back to the yard for veterinary treatment.

    “I just can’t believe what happened,” Teresa said. “I’m a senior sister in A&E in a major trauma centre in London so I’m used to violent men. They don’t frighten me, which is maybe not a good thing as I wasn’t very self-preserving; the police called me very brave but a very brave idiot.

    “The problem is, where we live, Croydon, or London, is coming into the village. I’d been thinking about moving but it’s going to be sooner rather than later now.

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    “These are the Downs I’ve ridden on all my life – to be attacked in the woods I ran around in as a five-year-old is horrendous. They don’t feel like my woods any more.”

    Teresa added that at one point she tried to grab the dog, as she thought it needed to be put down.

    “All I could think was, if the dog got hold of a child, they’d be dead,” she said. “But when the man was threatening me, it was like the dog was cowering against me; he was scared of the man too and I thought ‘you poor thing’. A dog is only what you make it.”

    Boycie is now recovering and Teresa, who hunts regularly, has ridden him to see hounds, and with her own dog, as she wanted to make sure he had not been affected by the experience.

    “If anything, I think he wanted to be in with the hounds as he felt safe,” she said. “He couldn’t cope with being on his own.

    “But the police have said they will catch this man.”

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