The rider of a horse whose tendon was completely ruptured when a car drove into him on the road says she struggles to understand how the driver could have left the scene of the accident.
The life of Louise Brown’s 17.1hh gelding Thomas hung in the balance after the collision, in October 2017 owing to the severity of his injuries.
Louise told H&H she and the then eight-year-old Irish draught/thoroughbred were five minutes from home, in Castleton, Greater Manchester, when they heard the car approaching from behind.
CCTV footage secured later from a shop opposite (below) shows the car slowing behind Thomas, but staying very close to his hindquarters. It then goes into him from behind, throwing the horse and rider into the air — and the driver pulls away without stopping.
“Thomas weighs about 850kg but I felt the jolt,” Louise said. “It happened so fast, and before I knew it, I was on the road. The driver just went round us and drove off.”
As Louise caught her horse and called a vet — Thomas had suffered a cut artery and was bleeding heavily — a witness ran after the driver, who had stopped further up the road as her windscreen was damaged, and managed to get her details.
“I didn’t know any of it as Thomas was bleeding all over the road; I thought he was going to die,” Louise said. “The vet, Peter Fenton, has been marvellous; it’s been a rollercoaster but he’s kept me going; I don’t know what I’d have done without him.”
Thomas was taken to hospital, where it was confirmed he had ruptured his deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and badly torn his superficial digital flexor tendon. The latter was stitched, “but there was nothing they could do for the DDFT,” Louise said.
“The vets said it was very bad. They said I’d never ride him again, and they didn’t know if he’d even be paddock sound.”
Thomas went home in a cast, and started a long process of rehabilitation, walking in-hand three times a day during seven months of box rest. He underwent successful surgery on the tendon, as he was “on tiptoe”, and eventually, Louise was allowed back on board as part of his rehabilitation.
He is now in light work; hacking in walk, with the occasional trot, and happy, Louise said, although he will never be able to be schooled or compete in dressage as they had before the accident.
“But he’s still going,” she said. “If he was in pain, I wouldn’t try to keep him going but he’s happy; he loves going out in the field with his friends and out for a plod.”
Having seen an advert for HorseSolicitor in H&H, Louise pursued her case legally, and she and the driver settled out of court this month, for over £25,000.
“The driver tried to say he jumped out into the road, but when we got the video evidence from the chip shop, you could see he hadn’t,” Louise said. “I’m so thankful we got that, and Ian at HorseSolicitor has been marvellous.
“I just don’t understand why she didn’t even stop. If you do something, no matter who’s in the right or wrong, you should stop and say ‘are you ok?’ but she just drove off.
The driver sped past the rider before reversing back and getting out of his car
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“She didn’t seem to have any regard for Thomas, or me; she didn’t want to know, just closed the door. I couldn’t sleep at night if I knew I’d hurt someone or something, but she just walked away.”
Louise said Thomas was not insured, so she had about £12,000 in vets’ bills to meet.
“He’s also likely to need vet attention in future, so I’ll put money away for that,” she said.
“The vets thought he wouldn’t be here, and that I’d definitely never ride him but he didn’t deserve any of this and I wanted to see if we could pull him through.”
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