A Louth horse rider is urging motorists to be more aware of equestrians on the road after her horse was hit by a car last week - and she has blasted the police for their handling of the incident.
Louise Wellings was riding her six-year-old traditional cob, Azzy, along Eastfield Road last Monday morning (October 14) as she returned to the stables on the outskirts of Louth.
Her horse became nervous as he approached some unfamiliar roadwork barriers, so Louise held her hand up to signal ‘stop’ to a motorist who was approaching from behind - but the driver took no notice, and slammed her car into the back of Louise’s horse without braking at around 20 mph.
The car’s wing mirror was damaged by the impact, and Azzy suffered a laceration - but thankfully suffered no lasting injuries.
Louise was also lucky to escape with minor injuries, although her confidence had also suffered as a result of the incident.
Despite stopping to exchange contact and insurance details, Louise told the Leader that the driver simply complained about ‘bloody horses’ and said she was late for work - rather than apologising or acknowledging her failure to respond to Louise’s hand signal to stop.
Louise added: “My riding partner asked why she had not stopped when I had asked very clearly - and the driver just told her to shut up.”
Louise posted about her experience on Facebook and, to her surprise, discovered that many motorists admitted that they were unaware of the meaning behind the various hand signals - such as ‘stop’ (palm up) and ‘slow down’ (downwards wave) - that horse riders are expected to use for the safety of themselves, their horses, and other road users.
Louise said: “Most motorists are great and they slow down when requested, but you just get a few bad road users and it spoils it. My next ride is going to be nerve-wracking, and the horse will probably be nervous too, so I’ve got to get my confidence back up now.”
Louise continued: “We are insured to be on the roads and have the right to use them as vulnerable users.
“I am the third horse and rider to be hit in the area, and I have taken this higher within the police.
“We do not use these signals to be a nuisance - we use these to keep me, my horse, and all other road users safe from harm.
“No one wants a ton of animal landing on your car because it would not end well for all involved!
“I have spoken to the British Horse Society, which is more than happy to come into Louth and hold an awareness campaign for riders and drivers to make us all safer on the roads.”
Following the collision, Louise reported it to the police and was told to visit Louth Police Station that evening to discuss the incident.
However, Louise says that shortly afterwards she received another call telling her ‘not to bother’ attending the appointment because the insurance companies would deal with it instead - which Louise felt was unacceptable, given the dangerous circumstances of the collision.
Louise attended the police station that evening as originally planned, but said the response she received was unsatisfactory - and she has since lodged a formal complaint.
Lincolnshire Police Inspector Sarah Constantine said: “We received a complaint and we are reviewing the circumstances.”
She added: “I would like to remind drivers to follow the Highway Code when approaching horses, by taking care and listening to a rider’s instructions to slow down or stop.”