A rider whose horse fell in a ditch after being spooked by a lorry is calling for drivers to take greater care around horses.
Jenny Sambrook was out hacking on her 15hh Connemara cross, Pearl (pictured), along Nine Mile Ride near Finchampstead on 6 July when a large lorry came past.
“He just didn’t slow down at all,” said the 62-year-old.
Pearl spooked, spun round and lost her footing on the edge of the ditch, causing them both to fall in.
The mare, who was uninjured in the incident, scrambled out of the ditch and was caught by the occupants of a car that had stopped.
Jenny was lucky to escape with just a few bruises from the fall.
She said she believes the lorry stopped further up the road, before driving away after she climbed out of the ditch.
“A lot of traffic by then had built up,” she said. “Everybody in the cars were really nice.”
Jenny was riding between two bridleways at the time and said that Pearl, who she has owned for five years, is usually very good on the road.
Both the horse and rider were wearing fluorescent/reflective kit.
“Most drivers are good,” she said. “The point I am just hoping to get out there is that the road is for everybody and drivers just need to respect that horses can easily be frightened and to slow down.
“We don’t like going on the roads, but we need to to get to other places.”
Jenny recently took part in a march through Wokingham in May to promote the “Routes for All” petition, which aims to increase off-road access to 30% of the rights of way network.
On Monday (13 July) the petition reached 5,000 signatures and Wokingham Bridleways Group hope this will reach 100,000 – enough to trigger a parliamentary debate.
Lee Hackett, from the British Horse Society (BHS), said that horses and riders are unquestionably very vulnerable road users.
He added the BHS is “absolutely dedicated” to improving off-road routes for horses, as these help to keep us all safe.
“There is no doubt who will come off worse in an accident between a lorry and a horse,” he said.
“We have done a lot of work educating riders and motorists about being safe on the road but there is still a great deal to do.
“Drivers who aren’t involved with horses are unlikely to understand their behaviour and reactions which of course is frequently reflected in how they drive.
“We need to continue to emphasise to all motorists how to drive near horses and to make them understand just what damage a horse can do to a car and its occupants.”
Jenny has reported the incident to the police.