Rider falls on road after ‘racing’ cars spook horse

  • A rider who fell on the road after two cars racing at high speeds spooked her horse has urged drivers to expect to see horses on country roads.

    Iona Hooley from Gloucestershire was returning from a hack when two speeding cars overtook and spooked her 21-year-old Irish sports horse, Barney, and she fell on the road in Brookthorpe.

    Iona told H&H: “I have to ride over the motorway bridge between Matson and Brookthorpe and Barney doesn’t bat an eyelid, nothing usually fazes him. I was coming down the hill into Brookthorpe when I heard the cars – I thought ‘they’re coming quite fast’, and it didn’t sound like they were slowing down.

    “A black Range Rover and a Volkswagen pick-up truck came flying past me. It looked like they were racing – they were tail-gaiting each other and revving their engines. Barney panicked, spun round and I fell out the side door.”

    As the cars drove off, Barney trotted off a short distance but stopped to eat grass. A driver stopped and offered to call an ambulance, helping Iona get back on board when she said she did not need one.

    She rode the short distance back to the yard and reported the incident to police, although she did not manage to get either vehicle’s numberplate.

    “It all happened so quickly – I didn’t get the plates, or the lady’s details who helped me,” said Iona, who was not badly hurt in the fall.“The police told me to report the incident to the BHS and said to call back if I have any more information, but there wasn’t CCTV in the area.

    “When I look back at it they were driving like idiots, my horse spooked but nothing happened – I’m here, walking and talking and Barney is ok,” Iona said. “Everything is fine, those people just had no consideration for us. Obviously some accidents are more serious than others and people get put off riding on the roads but we need to stand up and say we’re going to keep riding because we have an equal right to be on the road.”

    Iona wants more drivers to expect to see horses on the road and encourage riders always to wear high-vis.

    “Most drivers in the area are good. I hack out most mornings and see the same people who slow down because they expect to see me. Other drivers need to do the same especially on country roads – if there is a horse warning sign they need to ‘there could be a horse around this bend’. It could have been a lot worse,” she said.

    “It’s so important to raise awareness and remind riders to wear high-vis, you see so many not wearing it – if I hadn’t been, the driver [who stopped to help] might not have seen me on the ground.”

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