Ponies (UK) says lessons to be learnt over accident

Newbury showground and Ponies (UK) are investigating an incident where a yearling filly was seriously injured at a show held over the May Day bank holiday weekend.

The filly, Lillykai, was spooked while being led beside a yearling colt along a public walkway to the in-hand ring at the P(UK) South show on Sunday, 4 May. While reports from spectators and her owner are conflicting, it appears the filly bolted and became entangled in the ropes and metal-spiked “pigtail” posts of a nearby collecting ring, and with the lunge-line being used to lead her.

“Her leg was stripped like a banana, it was an absolute mess,” said owner Babette Cole of Holnest Park Stud. “She was spooked by a burger van while being led along a public walkway to a ring that was a distance from the lorry park.

“My grooms were both hurt as was a member of the public who tried to catch ‘Lilly’. It could have so easily been avoided.”

While Miss Cole maintains the metal spike holding up the collecting ring rope was to blame for the injury, Kate Wilson, the vet called to the scene, cannot confirm what caused the damage.

“Lilly has lacerated the extensor tendon on the front of her left hind cannon bone, and scraped the bone,” said Ms Wilson. “She also has a wound that just missed her fetlock — but I can’t say the spike definitely caused the damage.”

P(UK) chairman Davina Whiteman told H&H that the incident was a “chapter of unfortunate accidents”.

“We did express concern [to Newbury Showground] about the spiked posts, but it came down to cost — we were sharing facilities with another show the next day, so could not pay for them to be changed. But I accept that’s no excuse.”

Ms Whiteman maintains it is not P(UK) practice to use metal posts, but says the society is likely to put a blanket ban on their use.

“We will be looking at alternatives for the whole industry to use,” she said. “But undoubtedly we all have lessons to learn from this — competitors, organisers
and showgrounds.”

Ms Whiteman said the case highlighted the difficulties of holding in-hand classes at public events, and said P(UK) had to advise people not to lead horses side-by-side at busy shows, and to promote the best and easiest ways to get to and from rings.

A spokesman for Newbury Showground said it was awaiting full details of the incident before launching an inquiry or making any further comment.

“Nothing like this has happened at Newbury before,” said the spokesman.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (15 May, ’08). To read H&H’s exclusive news first, pick up your copy of the magazine every Thursday morning.