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15 September 2014

AFRAID!  BE VERY AFRAID   By Janice Thomson  December 2003

For once the sun was shining and there was just a gentle breeze as I got ready to ride, the usual saga of white hat and fluorescent tabard and almost white horse surely I was visible.  So off we went hoping for a pleasurable couple of hours.

As usual we encounter the dim wits and numtees who seem to make up the 75% of the drivers on country roads but we were enjoying the day and were ‘High‘ on life.  After an hour’s hack on tracks and single track road we emerged onto the ‘top’ road.  This is not a main road but it does come directly off the dual carriageway about 2 miles previously.

At this point I was very glad of my “Superglue” seat as Jake shied badly at a flock of sheep loose on the road, while regaining control we ended up at the wrong side of the road.  A nice ‘White Van Man’ stopped and while I thanked him and we all waited for the sheep to run off down another track, an “IDIOT” on a motorbike came up behind us so fast Jake and I nearly turned inside out.  The idiot had to stop, as his way was blocked by the sheep.  He proceeded to hurl abuse at the nice van driver and myself.  You know the usual drivel about XXXXXXX horses and the fact that we should not be allowed on his XXXXXXX roads.  There really is not a lot you can do or say in this situation; just smile and thank them for stopping and hope they leave soon.  I moved to the end of the track where the sheep had gone and continued to settle my horse as the motorbike sped off down the road.  I then continued along the top road to reach the next track, which would take us off the road.  Before getting to the track I heard a roar behind us.  It was the same motorbike!!  He had gone round in a circle on the lower road and come up behind us.  He reached us at speed, where he proceeded to do the equivalent of handbrake turns in the road beside us and in front of us.  Causing Jake to spin and rear on the edge of a drop off the road into a plantation.  He then did a wheelie as he raced off along the road.

Although I am not a religious person I did say a prayer that my horse was still in one piece and once more settled Jake to complete the ride home.  We emerged from the track less than a mile from home but back on the ‘Top’ road.  We had gone only a few hundred yards when we were overtaken, this time by a large lorry full of pipes.  The lorry came at speed and did not even try to slow down or move over the road to allow sufficient room to pass safely.  Jake panicked and reared spinning; I thought we were going under the wheels.  I’m not sure how we avoided the lorry, but it was more by luck than judgement.  At this point my neighbour caught up with us on her horse and she said that she was amazed we were still alive. 

I am quite a calm person but after my ‘quiet’ hack I was seething.  It wasn’t until I started to untack that I realised I’d knocked out my front tooth, but at least Jake was in one piece although rather shaken.  It took about 3 months of very quiet early morning hacks for Jake to regain his confidence on the road, but I can’t help but wonder what the outcome would have been if I had been a child on a pony and not a woman with 37 years riding and competition experience.


Editor’s Note:  All road accidents involving horses should be reported to the Police.  Even if no horses are hurt, please also report all incidents with bad drivers to the Police and to the BHS, giving as much information as possible.  If they don’t know the size of the problem, they can’t do anything about it.