A rider who cracked two bones in her back after she rode into an illegal wire hung across a bridleway has warned landowners to be aware of the consequences of a “quick fix”.
Laura Gribble, 35, of Four Lanes, Cornwall, was hacking her friend’s part-thoroughbred gelding Rusty on 13 July when she rode into an “invisible” metal wire on a bridleway at Redruth in Four Lanes.
Laura (pictured above riding another horse), a project manager, told H&H: “I was on my way back to the field where the horses are kept and having a few strides of canter when the wire caught my neck and I got ripped off the back of Rusty.
“There has always been a wire there, which you would duck under, but this was a new one. I just remember being bent right back and landing on the ground.
“I landed heavily on my right hip and banged my head. I remember Rusty galloped away and I got up and hobbled to try and go after him. Even with the adrenaline, I knew I had damaged myself but all I could think about was Rusty.”
The gelding made his way to a nearby farm owned by a friend of Laura’s, who managed to catch him.
“Rusty must have either jumped or gone round a cattle grid, he could have broken a leg,” Laura said.
”My friend took him back to the field and called an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. As the adrenaline wore off, the pain got worse. I was sent for a CT scan which showed I had cracked two transverse process bones in my back and had bad soft tissue damage.”
After six hours in hospital Laura was allowed home with painkillers.
“I was getting twinges in my back and every time I moved I cried. The pain was the worst I have ever felt – I had to go back to the doctors to get stronger painkillers and sleeping tablets,” Laura said.
“I wasn’t able to do anything for myself like take a shower and I couldn’t risk driving because of the tablets and in case I got a twinge. It’s had a huge impact on my life.
“I was signed off work for two weeks but when I returned I had to be signed off again with stress, I couldn’t cope. After being such an active person not being able to move properly affects you mentally. I’ve always been a strong character but I lost confidence. I had to hire a dog walker and struggled to do little things like housework.”
Since the accident Laura has said she is unsure whether or not she wants to ride again.
“I had a shot on a friend’s horse but I felt so wonky, I still don’t feel right,” she said. “I’ve ridden since I was five and feel like that’s been taken away from me.
“I have nerve damage in my back and a tingling feeling since the accident and I still get twinges in my back. Hopefully when I feel 100% better I will get back on but I don’t know; I’m trying to get fit and well again.
“Bridleways are supposed to be a safe place to ride. You shouldn’t need to look out for wires at neck height on a bridleway — even if there had been some kind of warning to look out for it but there wasn’t. It was so avoidable.
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“I want landowners to be aware that they can’t block bridleways and these kind of quick-fix actions can have consequences and result in a criminal record. This could have resulted in a death.”
Philip Care, 59, appeared in Truro Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to one count of placing a rope/wire/other apparatus across the highway in a manner as to be likely to cause danger. Mr Care was fined £512 and was ordered to pay £500 compensation, £85 court costs and a £51 victim surcharge.
Mr Care told H&H: “It was a very unfortunate accident. We put the wire over the bridlepath as we had 24 cattle that were going to escape on to the road so we had to do something urgently. The wire was put in in the same manner as another one which is about 30 yards away which has been over the bridleway for 20 years at the same height. Unfortunately the lady did catch herself and obviously we didn’t put it quite high enough. I went to court and said I’m very sorry and I’m guilty.”
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