Rider’s appeal to coach driver who flicked the finger as he squeezed past horses

  • The rider of a pony who was forced to climb a steep bank to avoid a coach squeezing through a narrow gap has written a letter appealing to the driver to think – after he raised a finger at her requests to slow down.

    Becky Horsham and her 15-year-old daughter Nicole had planned a quiet hack on the Isle of Wight on Saturday (15 February) to restore Nicole’s confidence after a fall.

    Becky told H&H she and her pony Guinness, and Nicole on 24-year-old Gypsy, were on a narrow stretch of road, with a line of parked cars on one side, when they saw the coach approaching.

    “He pulled out round the cars, when we were halfway down the line,” she said.

    “I put my hand up and asked him to stop but he just stuck his finger up and carried on.

    “My pony, bless him, must have looked at the gap and thought ‘sorry, I can’t do that’.”

    Becky said on Gypsy’s left was a five-foot bank with a raised pavement on top.

    “He was very calm but one minute we were on the road, the next up on the bank,” she said. “Luckily he didn’t panic as there were pedestrians up there, including an elderly lady and I wondered if he’d run her over but he just stood there.

    “Gypsy just stood too but Nicole said the coach was inches away; if she’d put out her hand, she could have touched it.”

    Becky said incidents of drivers squeezing past are not uncommon in the area – Guinness himself was clipped by an overtaking car last spring – but she had hoped the driver of a larger vehicle would take more care, and she was shocked by the hand gesture.

    She wrote a letter to the coach company, asking the driver to think, and be aware four living creatures had been put in danger by his actions.

    “Please think how you would feel if it was your daughter or wife on that pony.  Maybe they would be worth a minute of your time?” she wrote. “We are never in enough of a rush to endanger someone’s life. How would you feel if you had killed or seriously injured one of us today? Would it have been worth getting to your destination a minute sooner? Would you be able to sleep soundly knowing that your impatience had ended or ruined a life?

    “I would really like you to explain why our lives are so worthless to you.”

    Becky said she had no intention of starting a witch-hunt, but wants the driver, and others, to be more aware.

    “I think we’ve all done it, thought ‘stupid cyclist’ when we’re stuck behind, but we’re all people; not an inconvenience or an obstacle,” she said. “People just need to think about what’s important.”

    A spokesman for coach company National Holidays told H&H: “We very much regret that Becky and her daughter were frightened and placed in danger as a result of an incident involving one of our coaches.

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    “We extend our sincerest apologies to them and offer our assurances to them and all horse and riders that their safety, and that of all road users, is always our primary concern. Our drivers are highly trained, and we expect that not only do they drive with the utmost care and attention, but that they also conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, being courteous at all times to everyone they meet in their responsible role.

    “We do get great feedback from customers about our drivers so this incident is both disappointing and upsetting. We carry out hundreds of thousands of UK-based holidays each year, many on the Isle of Wight, where some of our drivers also live and are fully aware of the narrow roads in some areas, and the extra care and attention needed in negotiating these roads for the benefit of all users; our relationship with local residents is very important to us.

    “As one would expect, this particular incident will be fully investigated by senior personnel and Becky’s heartfelt and powerful account of the incident will be used in our ongoing training programme for all drivers.”

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