Two riders who fell off their horses when they were chased by a loose dog have called for owners to keep their animals under control.
Lindsey Baldwin was hacking her 10-year-old gelding Darcy on a bridlepath near Chipperfield woods, Hertfordshire, on Monday (14 January), when the “German shepherd-type” dog approached and spooked her friend’s horse Oscar.
Lindsey told H&H: “We ride out on a regular basis together, our horses are the babysitters of the yard — nothing bothers them. We were 20 metres into the woods on the bridlepath and I was in front. Suddenly a black dog came from the right-hand side down a bank but there was no owner.
“The dog chased us. Oscar spun and bolted – my friend lost her stirrup and fell off. Darcy rushed forward and shot into canter when he realised Oscar had gone the other way and he veered off the path. The next thing I knew I hit a branch, heard a bang and blacked out.”
Lindsey said when she came round, she could see Darcy cantering away.
“I had come off backwards with the force, it really knocked the stuffing out of me. I sat up and checked myself and nothing felt broken but my hat probably saved my life,” she said. “When I looked round I saw the dog running off in the direction where we came from.
“My friend and I saw both horses cantering toward the road and we just thought ‘they’re gone’. When we got to the entrance of the bridle path we couldn’t see them.”
Lindsey phoned her husband, who was at the yard, and he went out to look for Darcy and Oscar.
“The horses were found five minutes from the yard, walking side by side down the road; they had travelled one and a half miles. They would have had to turn left at a junction on to a busy road – anything could have happened in that time,” said Lindsey.
Both horses were uninjured but Lindsey suffered bruising and mild concussion, and her friend suffered bruising.
Lindsey said she noticed a car in a lay-by at the woods which she thinks might have belonged to the dog owner.
“My husband and the yard owner drove to the woods and saw the car leaving. They could see a dog in the back but the windows were blacked out and when they asked the female driver if it was the same dog she acted very cagey.
“We can’t prove it was this woman but I reported the incident to the police who said they will take it seriously.”
Lindsey said she has had “flashbacks” since the incident.
“I’m trying not think about the what ifs. Darcy is a saint, he’s my dream horse and is usually not bothered by dogs but with his friend cantering off the flight instinct kicked in. Thank god it wasn’t my daughter on him, she rides him at home and is now frightened but I’ve told her it was a freak accident,” she said.
Tracey’s 17-year-old niece, Milly, fell off during the incident
‘The man was attacking me and I thought, the dog’s going to join in in a minute, and I’m going
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Lindsey wants dog owners to be more aware of horses on bridlepaths.
“I don’t understand the mentality of some dog owners – they don’t think something will happen but it can, even with the best horse in the world. They need to have some common sense, get the recall sorted and if not, have it on a lead – for the sake of the dog and the horse, you don’t know what a horse will do,” said Lindsey.
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary confirmed the force is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting ISR 491 of January 14.
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