The mother of a young rider who was dragged 150 yards on a road when a speeding vehicle spooked her pony said her daughter is lucky to be alive.
Hannah Whelan was knocked unconscious, and suffered injuries to her hands, when the pony she was long-reining, seven-year-old Rupert, was scared by the van, in Lancashire on Saturday (15 August).
“She’s very lucky,” mum Lisa told H&H. “The hospital said she was extremely lucky to come away with what she did.”
Lisa said the pair had decided to take Rupert, a novice show hack with whom Hannah hopes to contest the SEIB Search for a Star showing series next year, for a quiet walk, on the single-track “farm lane” they live on.
“As we turned round, we saw a van coming towards us at speed, and thought ‘oh my god, he’s not stopping’,” Lisa said.
“My neighbour, who was walking her dog, got up on the embankment, and the van was going faster and faster. We said ‘he’s going to hit us’.
“He tried to squeeze past the pony but because the road’s single-track, he had nowhere to go.”
Lisa said Hannah threw herself towards Rupert, trying to make sure his back end did not swing towards the van.
“My neighbour was shouting ‘slow down, slow down’ but the next thing, the pony took off, at a flat-out gallop,” Lisa said. “There was dust everywhere and my daughter was being dragged up the lane.
“My neighbour was trying to call the police; there’s a 60mph road at the end of the lane and I didn’t think Rupert was going to stop. I rang my other neighbour, thinking ‘please be there as he’s going to keep going, and kill someone on the main road’.”
Lisa got hold of her neighbour, who managed to block the road with her car, diverting Rupert into the yard. The pony was unharmed, but Hannah was taken to hospital to be checked.
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“She was so, so lucky,’ Lisa said. “It’s going to be a few weeks till she’s riding again; her hands were pouring with blood and it’s like the skin’s been ripped off them but the nurses said she was unbelievably lucky to get away with that.
“The driver knew what he’d done, but he put his foot down and went.”
Lisa said efforts are being made to find the driver, who was treating the narrow road “like a racetrack”. Police are investigating, and CCTV has been secured from properties in the area.
“This puts things into perspective,” Lisa said. “I want to raise awareness; some drivers just don’t realise the damage they can cause.”
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