Warning after horse rescued from perilous stretch of bridleway

  • A rider is warning others to avoid a dangerous stretch of bridleway after her horse became trapped in a terrifying ordeal.

    Catherine Dudzinska has highlighted the section of bridleway to stop other riders from inadvertently putting themselves in danger.

    Catherine was hacking with her friend Georgina Pattison on 31 July on a marked bridleway in the Hovingham area, where she has been riding on for years, when they came across a boggy patch of ground.

    She steered her horse, Monster, along the firmer-looking edge, but the ground he was walking on turned out to be part of a bog and his back legs quickly sank deep into the mud.

    Realising what was happening, Catherine jumped off and tried to encourage him out. As he tried to escape, he launched forward into a muddy water-filled ditch.

    With no phone signal and nobody to hear her shouts for help, she continued to try and encourage her horse out of the ditch and sent Georgina to find help.

    Friends, people from local farms, a vet, fire crews from Malton and Helmsley and an animal rescue unit came to the rescue of the 18.2hh gelding.

    In total, it took 14 people almost three hours to free Monster — who was thankfully uninjured.

    The vet led him to a lorry, which someone from the village had brought to take the horse home.

    “He got off the lorry at home and went straight for his haynet!” said Catherine, who has owned the 11-year-old gelding since he was two and said he is “part of the family”.

    “Amazingly he is incredibly well, the vets cannot believe how well he is.

    “We were incredibly unlucky, but also incredibly lucky to walk out of that in one piece.”

    Catherine has contacted North Yorkshire County Council to make staff aware of the dangerous stretch and has also been in touch with the British Horse Society (BHS).

    She said she has “an awful lot” of people to thank — including people she doesn’t know but who live nearby and came to help.

    These include Airyholme, Moor House and Howthorpe farms, Blue Watch at Malton and Helmsley fire stations, Steph Robson, Amy Fenwick, Georgina Pattison and the vet.

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    “The BHS would always advise you check a route before you ride it,” a spokesman for the society told H&H.

    “However, as this incident shows, routes that are usually safe can change quite rapidly.

    “It is the council’s responsibility to maintain bridleways to a safe standard, so any issues should be reported to the relevant council.

    “We would advise anyone who is having issues with an unsafe bridleway to contact their local BHS access and bridleways officer, who may be able to help.

    Contact details for your local BHS officer can be found at: www.bhs.org.uk/bhs-in-your-area

    H&H asked North Yorkshire County Council if it has taken, or is planning to take, any action to make the area safer.

    A spokesman replied, saying the council is “aware of an incident involving a horse and rider in the area of a bridleway near Hovingham and is investigating”.

    “This is a well-worn bridleway, which provides a clear route through woodland and though there are wet areas after rain the area drains well and there have been no reported previous incidents,” she added.

    “The area is serviced by officers and countryside volunteers as it has been included in the council’s seasonal vegetation cutting programme since 1996.”

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