Ellen Eagles was riding her Irish gelding Jasper at Sandwich Bay, Kent, on 23 January, in water barely up to his fetlocks when he went into the hole, which Ellen estimated at four to five feet deep.
“My friend said Jasper and I went completely under the water,” Ellen told H&H. “I remember desperately trying to get to my feet, but I assume I was standing on these concrete blocks as I kept falling. I could see him on his side, thrashing and hitting his head, and the water turning red with his blood. It looked horrific.”
Ellen thanked a “lovely lady” who was walking her dog and stopped to help. Ellen’s phone had been submerged so the dog-walker googled the vet and rang the emergency number, and Ellen managed to get Jasper home.
“We were heading back to the trailer when it happened; thank god it was so close,” Ellen said. “He was pouring with blood but I managed to focus on ‘I’ve got to get this horse home’. It was only when we got back, I realised how cold I was and that I’d hurt my shoulder.”
The vet arrived at the yard soon after Jasper did and although the wound looks horrific, the damage appears only to be superficial. The stitches are due to come out on Monday (7 February) and it is hoped he will then be able to have some turnout.
“We’re really happy with how he’s doing; I don’t know how he got away as lightly as he did,” Ellen said. “I’d been imagining the worst; that horrific wound, and I thought he’d have fractured something as his legs are quite fine but there was nothing.
“He was a bit sore for a day or two but he’s completely sound now. We were so lucky.”
Ellen said she rides at the beach several times a year and has never had a problem, but she wants to warn other people of the potential dangers. It is thought the hole and lumps of concrete may have been something to do with Second World War defences, possibly hidden until recently and uncovered by shifting beach sand.
“We’d thought we’d be able to see any obstacles as the water was so shallow and we were going so slowly, but we didn’t see that,” she said. “I won’t ever ride through water again unless I’ve been down before and checked it with my own eyes; if I’d seen my own Facebook post before we went, it would have made me think twice.”
She also added that the incident has hammered home the importance of wearing a hat.
“I only realised a few nights later that mine was smashed,” she said. “It’s a new cross-country skull and it’s smashed in. People can be blase about wearing hats on the beach but if I hadn’t been wearing one, I’d have probably been killed.”
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