A grand prix rider whose horse died, and two others were badly injured, when a lorry crashed into her stationary horsebox is appealing to drivers to take more care.
Finnish dressage rider Joanna Robinson was on her way from Spain to her new base in the Netherlands, with a friend and five horses on board, when her lorry suffered a flat tyre on 30 April. While she was waiting for assistance on the hard shoulder, a truck ploughed into her box.
“We were just saying how fast these guys were driving past us; not slowing down at all, and then it crashed into us,” Joanna told H&H. “Thank god both of us were in the lorry; my friend had just been outside and if she’d been in front of the lorry, it would have been a completely different story.”
Joanna said her lorry was tilted slightly towards the motorway, which she believes may have helped as it did not tip over when the other truck hit.
The rider praised the efforts of those who came to her aid to get the horses off the lorry.
“It went really well,” she said. “The ramp was loose and we were worried that the horses might panic, get it open and be running around on the highway. But the vet sedated them all, then the firemen cut the fence next to the road and built an alley to where people from nearby stables were waiting with transport.”
But as soon as they accessed the horse area of the lorry, Joanna realised six-year-old Leo could not be saved.
“His leg was completely hanging, there was nothing that could be done,” she said. “He was just a six-year-old, and such a sweet horse; even when that happened, he was so calm.
“It’s so sad to happen to such a healthy young horse; I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
Of the other four horses, one only needed stitches in an eyelid and another seemed to be relatively unscathed. Both seem to be walking comfortably, and were due to be evaluated again today (5 May).
Two horses, Glam and Dundee, both sustained significant wounds and muscle damage, and Joanna does not yet know the full extent of their injuries.
“With this sort of big wounds, you can’t really evaluate how they’re moving, or know if it’s only the wounds, and how they will recover,” she said. “The mare especially is super stressed and really nervous at the moment, so we need to wait and see how she is.
“I was competing these horses last weekend and looking forward to getting going again and now I don’t know; maybe in 2022.”
Joanna praised those who had cared for the horses in France, and also thanked those who have shown their support at her new base.
“People have been bringing flowers and sending lovely messages; I’m so touched by everyone’s support,” she said. “But I’ve had so many comments from people who have had experiences close to this. And when we were on the highway with the transport company on Monday morning, we’d been on the highway half an hour when another truck cut straight in front of us. I’m so scared now that it will happen again.”
Joanna urged drivers to think about their speed on motorways.
'There we were, standing on the A1, with articulated lorries doing emergency stops, and the wagon just went up'
“I’m determined, to save horses’ lives and people’s lives, because no one deserves to lose their horse like I lost
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“Even before we were hit, people were driving past at full speed, about 30cm away and I was scared every time one drove past,” she said. “Even when the police were already there, people were speeding by the accident site honking their horns. Just unbelievable.
“This was daytime, on a long straight road with good visibility, but maybe it was because of that; maybe people pay more attention if they’re going round bends or uphill,” she said. “We took all the necessary action; we had hazard flashers on and a warning triangle out; we couldn’t think of anything we could have done differently, but it still happened.
“If by sharing this I can make some people think about their road manners, it will be worth it.”
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