‘It shouldn’t take a death’: Riders’ concerns over ‘slippery’ roads

  • A horse broke his shoulder in a fall on the road three years after concerns were first raised over similar incidents.

    Georgia Hedley-Ward’s part-bred Arab Archie had to be put down on Saturday (17 June) after he slipped while crossing a road on the Isle of Wight.

    Georgia had owned the grey gelding, who was in his late 20s, for 15 years.

    “It’s heartbreaking; we’ve had him for ever,” she told H&H. “I can’t remember a day he wasn’t there as we got him when I was seven; it’s left a massive hole in our lives.”

    The pair were crossing the road to get to a bridleway when Archie slipped and went down, trapping Georgia, who only sustained minor injuries, beneath him.

    “His front end went and he crashed to the side and I was stuck,” she said.

    “There was a tractor behind me with traffic accumulating behind him and the tractor did stop, then it was gone, and all the cars just drove past.

    “In the hour between him falling and us losing him, not one person stopped, even when I was lying underneath him.”

    Georgia said she and other road users have been worried for some time that new surfaces on the island’s roads are slippery.

    In 2014, then MP Andrew Turner arranged a meeting with the Isle of Wight council and contractor Island Roads at which riders shared their concerns.

    “Both of my horses have slipped but a lot of people have had issues; not just riders,” Georgia said.

    “Cyclists, motorcyclists; my partner works for a farming contractor and they’ve had problems too.

    “I want to get it out there; no one deserves what happened to Archie and it shouldn’t take a fatality to bring it to people’s attention.”

    A number of other riders have also told H&H their horses have slipped on roads on the island.


    A spokesman for Island Roads said: “We are very sorry to hear of this incident and send our sincere condolences to Georgia Hedley-Ward for her loss.

    “During discussions via a forum held in 2014 including the then MP and representatives of the equine community including the British Horse Society (BHS), we undertook to investigate reported incidents of horses slipping on the highway. We have begun that process in relation to this incident.

    “Our initial finding is that the location at which we believe the incident took place was resurfaced in 2014 using materials that meet all British Standards and used extensively on the island and throughout the UK. The latest data shows the surface condition of this section to be above the required standard set out in 2006.

    “Since 2013, in excess of 300km of the network have been resurfaced and all this work meets British Standards on both quality and safety.

    “We will continue to work with the equine community and BHS to play our part in ensuring the network remains safe for all users and any improvements to the network will be considered.”

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