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Rider faces surgery after horse chased by out-of-control dogs

A rider is awaiting surgery after she fell from her horse when she was chased by two large dogs – whose owner had failed to obey signs ordering dogs to be kept on leads.

Katrina West and her daughter Hayley Williams, 29, were riding their geldings Dodger and Harry on the Sopley Commom nature reserve, near Hurn, Dorset, on 19 February when they noticed a man with two large dogs off the lead.

“The man called after his dogs, which I think were either Bernese or St Bernard types, and Hayley turned to me and said ‘I think they’re going to chase us’,” Katrina told H&H.

“The dogs came round the corner barking at us. I tried to shoo them away but they took no notice and our boys took off down a steep hill.”

Katrina said Hayley’s horse Harry stumbled, causing her to fall off over his head.

“It was dreadful, I called to Hayley to ask if she was ok and she said she wasn’t. Harry whizzed past and then Dodger bolted after him and I couldn’t stop,” said Katrina.

“I managed to stay on and caught Harry, but when I went back to where Hayley had fallen, she had gone down another path trying to find Harry and we were completely separated. I managed to speak to her on the phone and called for an ambulance.”

Katrina said the ambulance was unable to get through to Hayley by telephone owing to poor mobile signal so the dog owner took Hayley to hospital, while the yard owner came to help Katrina take the horses back to the yard.

“The man checked her into hospital but then left and didn’t leave his details. Hayley said he claimed his dogs had never done anything like this before and were used to horses, and he was very cross with them,” said Katrina.

“Once I had dropped the horses off, I went to the hospital and was told Hayley had suffered a bad break to her collarbone and would need surgery.”

Katrina said the incident could have been avoidable and signs at the nature reserve state that dogs must be kept on leads.

“We come across lots of dog walkers on our rides and the majority are good, but then you have the irresponsible ones who will say ‘my dog is ok with horses’,” she said.

“It’s such a shame this happened, and so unnecessary. Dog owners need to be responsible – it’s not a big thing, all they need to do is put their dogs on leads when they see a horse, or make sure they are trained in recall. My daughter is now in hospital because this man didn’t have control of his dogs.”

Katrina said Hayley will remain in hospital until after the surgery.

“This will have a huge effect on her physically and mentally. She will be unable to work, and look after Harry, and now we have horses who could be worried going out again. We had a lot planned this season and it’s all gone – it’s really sinking in now how it’s made us feel and how it will affect our boys,” she said.

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“I don’t usually like putting things on social media but I posted about the incident on two local groups to raise awareness and if it makes one person think ‘gosh, I’ll not let my dogs off around horses’ then it will help.”

Katrina plans to report the incident to the police and the British Horse Society.

“It’s really shocking,” she said. “Whether or not you think your dog is ok around horses you need to put it on a lead. There are lots of young riders at our yard and I worry for them, this was bad enough but it could have been so much worse.”

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