Two riders are launching a campaign to ensure drivers take more care on the roads, after a car hit one of their horses while they were hacking in Gloucestershire last Saturday.
Kathy Hamilton and Marie Allen had barely left their livery yard at Range Farm on Upton Lane, in Brookthorpe, when the incident occurred. “It was about 7.40am, we were riding early in order to miss the traffic. Both of us were wearing fluorescent tabards and we are very careful riders,” explains Kathy.
Marie was riding in front on her 15hh 10-year-old schoolmaster Jasper, whom she describes as “99% in traffic”. Kathy followed on her four-year-old mare, Lady Charisma, known as Callie.
A red Ford Escort carrying two elderly women approached from the opposite direction and slowed right down, but Kathy could hear another car coming from behind.
“As the driver hit the top of the hill about 50 metres behind the horses, I signalled to him to slow down because he wouldn’t have made the gap, but he put his foot down and kept coming,” she says.
“He didn’t brake, didn’t drop a gear. I thought we were dead. He was approaching at 45 or 50 miles per hour. I panicked. I knew there was nowhere for the car to go.
“It caught Callie’s off hind, her hindquarters went down and hit the floor and then she leapt up again. The car smashed into the wing mirror of the Escort and just carried on. It all happened in seconds.”
Kathy was shocked but is relieved that Callie was not more badly injured. “I thought she’d have broken her legs,” she says. “I don’t know how he didn’t kill her.”
Kathy has had Callie since she was just nine months old, and she follows Richard Maxwell’s ideas about natural horsemanship: “Callie is very sensitive to noise but she saved my life because she did just stand there.”
The mare is still bruised although the swelling has gone down. Both women are now too frightened to take their children out hacking because it is not possible for them to access bridleways from the yard without going on the road first.
There have been a number of near miss incidents in the area during the last month. “It’s disgusting,” says Marie. “This is something we love and every privilege is being taken away from us.”
Kathy and Marie will be writing to their MP and local council and hope to get the police involved in their campaign. Their aim is to obtain a reduction in speed limit and the introduction of speed humps on Upton Lane. They also want to make sure riders are aware of their own responsibilities, so they don’t aggravate drivers.
The car that hit Callie was a metallic blue Renault 19. Police spokesman Steve Partridge said that officers would like to speak to the elderly women in the red Escort who talked to Marie after the incident, but left before the police arrived.
Anyone with any information should contact the police (tel: 0845 090 1234) or Crimestoppers anonymously (tel: 0800 555 111).