The riders involved in an Essex road collision earlier this month (7 January) have spoken of their heartache following the fatal event.
Twins Stacy and Kelly Franklin were riding horses Jack and Cassie when they were hit by a motorist on Woodgreen Road, Waltham Abbey.
Both horses had to be put to sleep due to the severity of their injuries.
The riders were rushed to hospital, Stacy to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and Kelly to The Royal London Hospital.
Jack was hit first and rider Stacy was knocked unconscious, while Kelly was thrown from Cassie, but “remembers every single second” of the ordeal.
“I was leading the way on Cassie and I heard a big bang like an explosion,” Kelly told Your Horse. “Then me and Cassie were travelling with the van, we were attached to it, and it careered into a ditch, there was glass everywhere.
“I was on the floor by Cassie’s legs and the van. I saw Stacy and Jack on the floor, I stood and tried to run back but collapsed because of the pain, I couldn’t breath.
“I remember screaming, ‘Call for help’, to passers by, who were brilliant. People came to help from the yard and it felt like I was lying in the road for hours.”
Stacy had a bleed to the brain and was kept in hospital for four days while medical staff checked she was safe to return home. She had issues with her vision, nosebleeds and dizziness, as well as severe bruising to her hip.
Kelly suffered fractures to her spine, seven broken ribs and had to undergo two operations to save her spleen and collapsed lung.
She returned home yesterday (18 January) and the sisters, whose houses are just minutes apart, are living together for the time being.
They said the horses saved their lives.
“We have to deal with the fact that we have lost our best friends,” said Kelly. “Replacing Jack and Cassie would never happen.
“We never ever thought it would be something that would happen to us, it’s just devastating. It feels like a bit of a nightmare and then the realisation hits in and there are horrible nightmares and flashbacks.”
The twins have ridden together all their lives and hacked out several times a week to unwind and relax. The pair run an entertainment company together, travelling to London and internationally, and spend time at the yard whenever they are not working.
Carol Thwaites and her partner Jess James owned Cassie and Jack. Carol said she couldn’t wish for better riders for her treasured horses.
“You couldn’t wish for nicer girls,” she told Your Horse, while sharing memories of the beloved horses who were “everything” to the couple.
Jack was a Welsh section D, aged 18, and thoroughbred Cassie was going to turn 29 this year.
“They were such easy-going horses and they were like an old married couple in the field together,” she said. “They couldn’t be fazed, you couldn’t fault them, they were everybody’s dream horse.
“My partner and I are retired but we look after the horses, we do it every day of every week, of every year, we don’t have holidays we just have the horses.”
Both the twins and Carol, as well as fellow liveries are calling for action to be taken to improve the safety of the road, including a speed reduction on the road.
Both riders were wearing hi vis and walking quietly down the road in single file at the time of the collision. They were just meters from entering Epping Forest and minutes from leaving the yard.
The yard members are working with the British Horse Society to improve road safety in the area.
“We were just walking along the road,” added Kelly. “Two beautiful horses have lost their lives and we were seriously injured. Something needs to be done.”