A driver and a rider and her mother have shared their experiences of a collision in the hope of improving road safety.
In an emotive video aired during a talk by the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Alan Hiscox at the National Equine Forum (4 March), the trio spoke of the day the accident happened and how it impacted their lives.
Sussex-based Amy was riding her horse Rambo with her friend, Emily, on a bridleway. The were approaching a busy 60mph A road when the horses were spooked by a motorbike.
“We’ve done the route hundreds of times,” said Amy. “In the summer we’d cross that road almost three times a week and although it was the most dreaded part of that hack because it is a dangerous road, we’d never had an incident until that day.
“We were approaching the end of the bridleway when a motorbike passed, not particularly loud, not particularly fast, and both horses have been around motorbikes and are usually fine, but for some reason this day they did not like it and Emily’s horse went right into the bushes.
“On my left was a big wire fence so the only direction I could go was forward and unfortunately a couple of metres in front of us was the road.”
While this was taking place, Sadie was driving her car down the A road.
“By the time we saw Amy and Rambo they were at the entrance of the bridleway by the road,” she said. “I broke as hard as I could and I swerved, luckily there was nothing on the other side of the road and it was a side impact.
“It took out our side window and wing mirror and as we made contact, it was the worst thing looking into Amy’s eyes and how scared she was. I must have been just the same.”
Amy got to her feet after the fall and saw Rambo trotting along the road.
“I saw he hadn’t been knocked over, it was an immediate relief but when I caught him and saw his injuries it was terrifying,” she said.
“A section of his chest was hanging off him, his neck was cut up with glass stuck in him, and he had two very deep puncture wounds in his chest too.”
After catching Rambo, Amy called her mother, Gaynor, and Sadie came over to assist Amy.
“Thankfully she knows horses and knew it wasn’t our fault and that horses were unpredictable, just like I knew it wasn’t her fault,” said Amy. “She was just unlucky enough to be driving down that road at that time.”
Gaynor spoke of her reaction to receiving the call from her daughter.
“All I could hear was her gasping down the phone and her voice was very distraught saying that she and Rambo had been hit and could I please come quickly,” she said.
“I can’t tell you what I thought in those moments, this is a call that you always know you might get one day but you don’t really expect to.
“I had no idea whether Rambo was going to be lying on the road, whether Amy was terribly injured, I knew she was speaking but I didn’t know what state either of them would be in. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I got there and I saw them both standing.”
Sadie was distraught when she saw Rambo following the collision.
“Seeing Rambo with this open wound and blood dripping, I felt so guilty,” she said. “The problem was I didn’t even see Amy and Rambo [until it was too late] even though Amy had a hi-vis jacket on, it was so overgrown.”
Amy said it wasn’t until she had taken Rambo to the vets and heard his condition was stable that she realised the extent of her own injuries.
“My adrenaline wore off and I realised how badly I was hurt,” she said. “I hadn’t hit my head luckily, but I had fallen quite badly onto my back onto the road.
“We went to A and E and they told me I had quite deep muscle trauma but I would be ok, so for a horrifically unlucky situation both of us were so lucky. It was so unlucky because no one involved was doing anything wrong.”
Gaynor said the foliage was too high and overgrown at the end of the bridleway, the signage was insufficient, and the setting was an “accident waiting to happen”.
She is now campaigning for improved safety on this stretch of road and in all areas where riders may be present. With the BHS, she is working with Sussex Council to improve signage for riders in the county, as well as the rest of the UK.
“The triangle signs warning of horses do not indicate road may lead to a bridleway,” she said. “It is going to be a long haul, but I would like to have other agencies involved because it’s dangerous on the roads.
“We would like to see increased signage, and motorists need to be alerted to slow down significantly if you see a horse, even if you’re not passing.”
Thankfully Amy and Rambo have made a full recovery.
“In a lot of cases, the horse and rider will not be as lucky as we were,” added Amy. “Three weeks after hospital Rambo came home. His injuries have healed and his personality has not changed.
“I was terrified to get back on, terrified something would happen to him. But we have returned to full work and are even out hacking again.”