An eventer was knocked unconscious after a near miss with a falling branch while competing.

The accident happened at British Eventing’s (BE) Smiths Lawn Horse Trials in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, on Monday (10 August).

Southerly Roberts was riding her own nine-year-old mare, Fizz IV, in the cross-country at the time of the accident.

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The pair were competing in a novice section and had ridden a 36.8 penalty dressage and showjumped clear before starting the cross-country.

The combination were heading up a long, uphill gallop between the fourth and third-last fences on the course when a branch fell.

Southerly said the last thing she remembers was a noise and the branch falling before waking up in an ambulance strapped to a spinal board.

“I heard this noise and this branch, it felt like a tree, fell,” she told H&H. “I don’t actually remember it landing.”

She added she assumes the branch fell just ahead of her rather than on top of her and the horse.

A friend saw the 17.1hh bay, by Carnaval Pleasure, heading back towards the showjumping warm-up without her.

Large skid marks from the mare were found in front of the branch.

Southerly, who works for Sophie Allison Livery in Hook, Hampshire, was taken to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey with head injuries and a broken rib.

The horse was not injured.

She was kept in overnight and was discharged from hospital yesterday (Tuesday 11 August) and is recovering at home.

“It was completely freaky – when do you ever see trees falling?” Southerly added.

A BE spokeswoman said: “We understand that Southerly has now been released from hospital.

“It appears that a branch fell in front of her horse between fences on the cross-country, resulting in the rider falling from the horse.”

She is expected to be off work for two weeks and BE’s rules mean it will be three weeks before she can return to affiliated eventing.