Rider who lost ‘real life unicorn’ in tragic road accident on mission to educate future drivers

  • A rider whose horse died after he was hit by a car while hacking through a village is pushing for greater education of current and future drivers to make the roads safer for everybody.

    Francesca Kennedy was riding her horse, Bart, near to the Cumbrian yard she kept him at on 30 December 2020, when the pair were hit by a car.
    Bart had to be put down and Francesca was airlifted to hospital.

    She told H&H she has set up Bart’s Legacy, with friend Hannah Farrell, as they do not want anyone else to have to go through a similar experience.
    “We are going into schools to educate the children about the importance of [how to behave] around horses on the road, targeting mainly secondary school kids that are just starting driving,” she said, adding that they are going into primary schools as well.

    “What we are trying to do is positive education for the kids — when they’re at school and have a positive learning experience, they go home and tell their parents, especially younger ones, they buzz about things they’ve enjoyed learning.

    “We are trying to make it fun and educational, not just telling children what to do, but so we are then educating their parents [through them] as well.”

    A two-day working hunter show is also being held at Greenlands Equestrian this weekend (15-16 May) to raise money for the initiative and to help spread the road safety message.

    The idea came from Francesca’s grandmother, who is sponsoring the show, and she said show organsier Heather Metcalf has been “amazing”.

    Francesca explained they had bought Bart (“he was a real life unicorn”) for her mental wellbeing, to enjoy for all the benefits that being around and outside with horses bring.

    “He saved me twice,” she said, adding he saved her both mentally and that day on the road. “He is just a hero.”

    Francesca sustained ligament and tendon injuries in the accident and a police investigation is ongoing.

    “Luckily I am recovering from those [my physical injuries]”, she said. “Mentally, what happened will not leave me.”

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    She said they are also trying to introduce “Bart’s Law” that would make passing horses safely a requirement of the driving test, a cause that Newmarket rider Rosie Margarson separately started a Government petition about this week.

    The Bart’s Legacy team, whose slogan is “kill your speed not my steed”, have also been specifically targeting non-horsey places, such as Boots and Morrisons, with their banners to get the message across to the wider public.

    Money raised will go towards educational materials and the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which came to Francesca’s aid in December.

    “You never know when you’re going to need them,” she said.

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