The owner of a horse who became wedged between a “dangerous” gate and a tree-lined bank is calling for improved and safer off-road access.
Jacques de Wit said it is “miraculous” his 19-year-old PRE stallion General escaped without serious injury after the accident on Sunday morning (15 September).
Jacques told H&H that while he wants to work with rather than against Gloucestershire County Council, the incident is a “clear indication about the safety of bridleways”.
He said he has lived in the Redmarley D’Abitot area for 29 years and the gate in question was in place before he moved to the village.
“It’s got a flat metal bolt that you just can’t operate on horseback,” he said. “When it’s not bolted, you have to lean over, pull the gate backwards and rein back, then swing the gate open and ride through.
‘I don’t know what happened but my horse half-reared and shot forward. To the right of the closing post, there’s an opening about 6” wide at the top and 18” at the bottom. He got himself stuck in that gap with my leg between him and the post.”
Jacques managed to extract his leg but General was stuck fast, thrashing in panic and groaning.
Jacques called 999 and his vet, who had to sedate the stallion.
“The fire brigade were absolutely brilliant, I can’t praise them enough,” he said.
“They couldn’t cut him free as the sharp edges on the post could have ripped him open, so they used webbing, turned him 180 degrees and used sliding boards to get him out.
“It’s a miracle; the steel post was in his tummy and his head was stuck behind a tree, which minimised his thrashing and he just laid there; if he’d panicked, he’d have broken his legs and caused untold injury.
More than 160,000 people have asked the government to ban the parties – but are they a welfare issue?
‘A lot of people hack out and see a gate and think that’s normal, and landowners think because no one
“It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened. Thank god he’s ok.”
General has a swollen knee and hocks and has been resting but Jacques, who is bruised and “aches all over” but did not suffer serious injury, intends to trot him up on Sunday, in hopes he will be sound.
‘This could have been so dangerous,” he said. “It was a freak accident but one that was probably waiting to happen. A lot of other riders use that bridlepath, including children on ponies, and I think the county council should take their health and safety more seriously.
“The gate doesn’t even serve any purpose as there’s no livestock, so it’s just an obstruction.
“This is a clear indication of the safety of bridleways and I’m sure it’s a widespread problem, which county councils should be doing something about.”
A spokesman for Gloucestershire County Council said the council is aware of the incident and has contacted Jacques.
“We will be visiting the site to check the safety of the gate and to see if anything can be done to improve access for riders,” he added.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.