A rider who watched a car skid towards her across the road said it came within inches of wiping out herself and her horse.
Michaela Stevens managed to secure video footage of the incident, on 8 January, and said she was told this week that the driver is to be contacted by police about his actions.
She told H&H she wants to raise awareness of the possible consequences of not passing horses safely.
Michaela was approaching a crossroads in Four Lanes, Cornwall, returning to the yard where she keeps her horses Rusty and Trousers, on 8 January, when a car appeared, turning into her road.
“I could see he was going too fast and too wide [on the corner],” she told H&H. “He saw me, jammed on his brakes and skidded towards us. It sounds crazy but your brain works at lightning speed; I looked him straight in the eye, screamed and thought ‘Is he going to hit the front or the back of us? Should I pull the reins or use my legs?’ I used my right leg, far back, and Rusty just moved over. Thank god. The people who stopped in the car behind said the car was inches from his back leg. It would have been game over – it would have finished him and me.”
Michaela reported the incident to police straight away, along with footage taken from a nearby snooker club’s security camera, but the car’s numberplate is not clear. She carried out her own detective work and managed to find the driver, and reported his name to police as well.
“They have now said they’ll send him a warning letter, which is better than nothing,” she said.
“The worst thing was that he didn’t stop; he just drove off without checking us, and he tapped the side of his head with one hand as he went past. I screamed, so loudly, a lady in her bathroom heard and thought we’d been hit, and came out, and I just collapsed.
“The car behind could have hit us as well, where Rusty jumped over, and I thought ‘We’ve got to get out of the road’.”
Michaela dismounted in a car park and checked Rusty, who was unhurt. Her partner has since bought her a new hat camera, and she said its visibility against her high-vis orange silk seems to have an effect.
“But it’s all very well having a camera,” she said. “I don’t want to catch people out; I just want them to drive safely around me. I don’t know why people don’t want us to be safe.”
The driver told H&H the incident was the first of its kind he had been involved in. He said his dog, in the car, started to choke, and he took his eyes off the road momentarily.
“When I saw the horse, I panicked,” he said. “I know when you see a horse, you have to stop, so I put the brakes on and the car started to slide. When I realised that, I took the brakes off.”
The driver said he did not stop as he saw both horse and rider were unhurt, and his dog still appeared to be choking. He said he has since found out the ABS sensor on his car was not working, hence the skid, and that the incident shocked him too.
“It’s been on my mind for the past month,” he said. “It’s maybe the biggest mistake of my life, and the first time I’ve made a mistake like that. I love animals and this was an accident; I wanted to meet her and apologise.”
Michaela has since reported two more incidents caught on the camera – one, a woman who responded to her requests to slow down with a rude hand gesture, who is also to be sent a warning.
“I want to show people that there are consequences if they drive dangerously around people and animals,” she said. “I hope this letter will change the driver’s ways. I don’t want ever to experience that again, or for anyone else to either.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.