A rider who was injured when a dog attacked her horse out hacking and caused her to fall off on to the road has said that regaining her riding confidence has been one of the hardest parts of the recovery process.
Alison Muir had been enjoying a hack on her mare Penny when she was attacked by a loose dog on the way home.
“I heard the dog panting as it ran up behind us,” recalled Alison. “It started to snarl and snap at Penny’s legs, jumping up at her chest and trying to grab her nose. She froze to the spot at first, but then the dog grabbed her front leg so she tried to get it off.
“Then the dog grabbed her back leg and Penny bucked to get it off. Next thing I knew I was in the road.”
Alison has owned Gypsy cob Penny since she was a foal.
“I looked up to see where Penny was, and the dog came towards my face snarling and snapping. I curled up into a ball and covered my face.”
The dog was collected by the owner and a passerby helped Alison to the side of the road and caught Penny.
As a result of the attack, Alison suffered soft tissue damage and bruised her ribs, right arm and hip.
“Penny had a bite mark on her right hind, but luckily she wasn’t lame,” said Alison.
‘I was afraid’
Unfortunately, the incident caused Alison to suffer a knock in riding confidence.
“I didn’t realise until I next took Penny round the block that I was actually afraid,” admitted the 47-year-old rider who works as a lollipop lady.
She added that the anxiety caused her to constantly worry and she struggled to sleep.
“I was overthinking every scenario and kept asking myself, ‘what if there’s a loose dog? What if Penny sets off and I can’t stop?'”
Alison, who also owns 14.2hh Gypsy cob Blossom, made a plan to help her regain her confidence.
“The first step was to share my experience of the accident, so I turned to the Hack 1000 Miles Facebook group. It was strange at first, as I felt quite vulnerable, but I was amazed by how supportive people were. They understood how I was feeling, and I began to believe it was possible to get back to where I was before.”
Alison began taking both mares on short hacks.
“Some days I would feel nervous and some days I was stronger,” she said. “I stuck to the stronger days, and getting out for a short ride was better than not getting out at all.”
Alison slowly increased the mileage of her rides and chose a different route each time.
“I often imagine the ride before I do it, which helped immensely.”
“It took me a month to ride past where the accident happened, but I’ve been past it now and have moved on.
“I’m constantly challenging myself and my ponies, and these achievements increase my confidence further.”
Alison added the Facebook group has been essential to helping her regain her hacking confidence and enjoyment.
“It gives people the opportunity to share experiences and come together for things like the BHS’ Pass Wide and Slow. I am inspired by the other #Hack1000Miles riders, and I’m looking forward to planning new adventures.”
Any incident that occurs out hacking should be reported to the British Horse Society online or via their Horse i app.