Rider sues Ministry of Defence after horse spooked by helicopter

  • A 62-year-old rider who was almost killed when her horse kicked her in the head after it was spooked by a low-flying helicopter is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

    Jane Holloway, of Musbury in Devon, spent four weeks in hospital after fracturing her skull when her horse Pandora reared up as a Chinook swept over a field at — what she claims — was just 30ft.

    Miss Holloway also suffered bleeding on the brain, fractured sinuses and had her head shaved for three operations.

    She has been left frail, with a hoof-shaped scar on her skull and blurred vision, after the accident on 6 March.

    She is seeking an apology and compensation from the MoD. But she says the most important thing is for the height limit at which aircraft can fly to be raised.

    This follows another H&H reader, Lady Julie Daly, from Buckinghamshire, petitioning to the Government to get the limit aircraft can fly over equestrian establishments changed from the current 100ft to a minimum of 200ft (news, 16 April).

    Miss Holloway returned home from hospital earlier this month but cannot drive or look after her horse.

    She said: “I’m lucky to be alive and walking around. [The pilot] was flying really low — lower than the roof of the farmhouse, which is about 30ft.

    “The horses went mad. I don’t really remember anything else — just thinking ‘I’m dead’,” she said. “I can’t believe the pilot didn’t see what happened. He just flew off and left me for dead.”

    As she lay unconscious a man fishing nearby noticed the horses galloping in the field and went to see what was wrong, before calling an ambulance.

    An MoD spokesman said aircraft data had been recovered and the complaint was being investigated, adding: “Inquiries to date have identified that the aircraft involved was serviceable and was being operated within its authorised parameters.”

    To sign Lady Daly’s online petition go to http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Altitude/

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (23 April, ’09)

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