The mother of a teenage girl who was lucky to escape serious injury when a loose dog attacked her horse has appealed to owners to take responsibility for their pets.
Kerrie Smart-Jones’s daughter Ella was taken to hospital after the fall from her former racehorse Atlantic Quest on Camber Sands beach, East Sussex, on Saturday (31 March).
The 14-year-old had suffered whiplash and is “battered and bruised” but Kerrie said she is lucky not to be more seriously hurt.
“It was a heart-in-mouth moment,” Kerrie told H&H.
“She was lying on the beach, unable to move her leg or her hand, and her hands were getting colder and colder as we waited for the ambulance so you’re wondering if something’s broken or trapped in her back – it was not a nice situation.”
Kerrie said Ella, who wants to be a jockey, was walking Quest on the relatively empty sands while they waited for the friends they had arrived with to tack up their horses.
“Within a couple of minutes, this dog came rushing up and starting harassing them,” Kerrie said.
“It was jumping up at them and barking. Its owner was running up, whistling and calling. We were running over, then the owner managed to get hold of it.
“The owner was saying: ‘Oh, he never listens to me or comes back when he’s called’ – so why wasn’t he on a lead? If you can’t control your dog, or don’t know how it’s going to react in a situation, don’t let it off.”
The woman took the dog away and after Ella had calmed Quest down, she asked if she could take him for a canter.
But just as she prepared to go, the dog reappeared.
“Time seemed to go into slow motion,” Kerrie said.
“Quest was just taking off to go and suddenly, there was the same dog again. It was under his feet, jumping up and barking, but this time, Ella wasn’t prepared for it; she wasn’t ready.
“She held on for as long as possible but then she was off; Quest just wanted out.”
Quest galloped back to the car park, where he was caught by the family’s friends.
He was unhurt but Ella, who was unable to feel one leg, had to be taken to hospital where due to the possible nature of her injuries, she was seen by the trauma team and scanned.
“Thankfully, other than whiplash and being very sore, bruised and battered, she’s absolutely fine,” Kerrie said.
“That’s down to her protective equipment, which they had to cut off her so will all have to be replaced, which won’t be cheap – not a great start to the Easter holidays!”
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Kerrie said she and Ella had to wait for some time on the beach, but that there was no further sign of the dog, a white terrier type, or its owner.
“I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself [in the owner’s shoes],” Kerrie said. “She knew Ella was only a young girl but she just disappeared without even coming over to find out if she was ok.
“And she must have let it off again, for it to come back; keep it on a lead, certainly if you know it doesn’t respond to your commands. That’s what they make retractable leads for.
“If what happened to Ella makes even one person think before they take their dog off the lead, it would be huge.”
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