A rider who broke down on a motorway with her her horse on the lorry has spoken out about the importance of breakdown cover, and the need to ensure horses will remain calm in such situations.
Genevieve Scott had to pull on to the hard shoulder of the M4 at 10.30am on 8 September when a tyre blew on her 3.5-tonne lorry, with her 15hh Connemara gelding, Boggle on board. Genevieve had been travelling from Hampshire to West Wilts Equestrian Centre.
Genevieve told H&H: “I wasn’t really sure what to do, whether to stay in the lorry, to keep my horse company, to get out or whether they can change tyres at the side of the road, all those sorts of things.”
Genevieve contacted her breakdown recovery firm, Equine Rescue Services, which informed Highways England of the breakdown in order to arrange for a lane of the motorway to be closed.
“The problem was there was an accident further up the motorway so Highways England was busy and couldn’t come and shut the lane nearest to me for about an hour. I didn’t realise how busy the road was until it happened,” she said. “Whenever a big vehicle passed, you could see my lorry shaking, it was quite unpleasant.
“I got out of the vehicle and went over the side of the crash barrier because you could feel how dangerous it was and how close the lorries felt. Obviously you don’t want your horse to get harmed but equally you don’t want to put yourself in that situation so you have to look after yourself first, and your horse second in that situation.”
The recovery team was able to fix Genevieve’s lorry at the roadside.
“If the recovery team hadn’t managed to change the tyre on the side of the road they would have had to shut the whole motorway, unload Boggle and load him on to another lorry,” she said. “I can’t believe people would take their horses out and not have breakdown recovery in place. It’s stressful enough but add in having to phone around recovery companies and make the calls to Highways England – you don’t need to be doing that.
Genevieve was on the motorway for over two hours and said it was a big test for Boggle, who had previously had travelling issues.
“He was terrible travelling and wouldn’t stand on the lorry for any length of time – that’s thankfully long gone and he was absolutely brilliant, he didn’t get wound up or upset,” she said.
“You see so many posts online with people saying they can’t leave their horses standing on a lorry and you think, what would they do if they broke down?”
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Genevieve continued: “You have to spend the time training your horse to make sure he will stand. I would never have gone on the motorway without knowing that Boggle’s problems are solved. I think it’s really important that people are either prepared to call the vet and have the horse sedated, or they teach their horse as much as they can to stand on the lorry.
“Even the best trained horses in the world can get upset by being on the hard shoulder with lorries flying past, but if you have a horse that can’t even stand for 20 minutes in a normal situation then they are never going to cope with that.”
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