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Rider knocked unconscious after car overtook too quickly says she was ‘lucky’

A rider who was knocked unconscious in fall when a car overtook her too quickly and closely says she was lucky to escape with the injuries that she did, as she calls for more driver awareness.

Zoe Ryan and a friend were riding two abreast on the A38 through Severn Stoke, Worcestershire, on 6 February.

Zoe, who was riding her mare Fugbug known as “Fug”, told H&H she and her friend were about to turn off towards a bridlepath when she heard a car approaching quickly from behind.

“My friend’s horse can be nervous so Fug and I were on the inside. I don’t remember everything that happened but my friend said I looked round and asked the driver to slow down with hand signals. But he ignored me and sped up,” she said.

“There had been a car coming towards us so I think he saw a gap and tried to pass us quickly so he didn’t have to wait.”

Zoe was told by her friend and other drivers, who witnessed the incident, that Fugbug “erupted” and began to “buck and leap”, as the car drove off.

“I fell and hit my head first, then Fug accidentally kicked me in the back of the head and stood on me,” said Zoe. “I thought I got up straight away but apparently I lay there and I remember hearing someone say ‘get the horse’, then I woke up.

“If the driver had looked in his mirror he would have seen Fug explode but he was gone and we didn’t get his registration. The other drivers that stopped to help were brilliant, one lady had been waiting to pull out and saw everything. Another driver barricaded the road with his van to keep us safe.”

Zoe’s friend and the two horses were, but Zoe was taken to hospital by ambulance.

“I had a nasty gash down to the bone on my elbow and I was taken for an abdominal scan to rule out internal bleeding, and a CT scan because I was quite confused,” she said, adding that she also fractured her collarbone and tore hand ligaments.

Zoe was diagnosed with concussion and had to remain off work for more than a week.

“The doctors and paramedics said I was very lucky they were the only injuries I had, and I believe I was lucky – it could have been worse. My hat only had some small scuffs but I believe it saved my life,” said Zoe.

“The day after my fall every part of me hurt, I struggled to sit up – it felt like I’d been through a tumble dryer. I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Other liveries have been amazing looking after Fug and my retired horse Seamus for me,” she said.

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Zoe, who is expected to be out of the saddle for at least six weeks, would like to see more driver awareness, especially relating to riders hacking out two abreast on roads.

“A local newspaper covered my story and some of the responses were that we should ‘have some common sense and ride single file’ and many drivers don’t understand why we do it. But we’re doing it to keep ourselves safe,” she said.

The Highway Code states it is legal to ride two abreast on the road. In November 2020 a police force issued a reminder to drivers via social media stating horses are “powerful animals that can be easily frightened” and for drivers to be aware they might come across equestrians riding two abreast on the roads.

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