A recent near-miss in a warm-up arena has sparked calls for riders to “please engage brains”.
Intelligent horsemanship guru Kelly Marks was watching her sister’s horse LVS Jackpot, ridden by Southerly Roberts, working in at a jumping and style (JAS) competition at Hartpury on 14 January.
As the combination were jumping a parallel, “someone casually walked their horse across the fence two strides away”.
“My heart was in my mouth,” Kelly told H&H.
“She came round to jump quite a big fence and someone on a loose rein walked across on the landing side just as she jumped it.
“No harm was done, luckily, but it frightened me to death – it could have been death.”
Kelly posted an account of the incident on Facebook, writing: “I know it’s only a matter of time before I witness a serious accident in a collecting ring as it’s a dangerous place at the best of times and people do the craziest things.”
Commenters contributed their own experiences, mentioning accidents, other near-misses and “terrifying riding”.
“It’s obviously a big thing,” Kelly said.
“I think it’s education that’s needed. Perhaps a big board outside the arena stating the rules would help, as I think some people just don’t know.
“It’s quite American but maybe a big sign just saying THINK! because that’s a lot of the problem.”
Kelly said there was no blame to Hartpury for the incident in question, as it “couldn’t have been more organised”. She believes much of the problem is caused by carelessness, from people who are being “casual” and not paying attention to the situation.
“Maybe they’ve been in the ring already or they’ve stopped for a chat,” she said. “But people need to be aware, as well as things like passing left to left and if you’re going to stop, do it in the right place.
“Some might say it’s health and safety gone mad, but soon you won’t be allowed to put up a fence without a hat and body protector on, purely because people are so stupid – but it doesn’t have to be like that.”
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Kelly said people should be aware of rules and etiquette – such as the meaning of different coloured ribbons in a horse’s tail – but also common sense, such as avoiding too many people in the warm-up at the same time.
“Mind you, you could have two people in there and it only takes one idiot to have an accident,” she added.