Offbeat

By Sophie Norris


An ‘impatient’ driver was allegedly so eager to overtake a horse rider they FLIPPED their car onto its side as they drove up the country road’s embankment too high.

Stacey Chapman, from Ryarsh, Kent, had been out riding her 14-year-old mare Revuelo when a gold Volvo tried to overtake the car in front instead of waiting for the horse to pass.

The 36-year-old said she ‘genuinely feared for her life’ as her horse bolted

PIC FROM MERCURY PRESS

the vehicle mounted the bank but became unbalanced and came crashing down on its side.

The two little girls who were in the car being overtaken were screaming with shock and Stacey and her horse were shaking in fear – yet she claims the Volvo rider ‘nonchalantly apologised’.

Despite having more than 25 years’ experience of riding, Stacey claims the incident has left her too terrified to take her horse out on the road again.

She is now hoping to warn drivers about the dangers of overtaking on country roads and how ‘spooking’ a horse with a vehicle could lead to a potentially fatal accident.

Stacey said: “It could have killed me. I’ve had cars whip past me and slam their brakes on before and you almost accept that, but this was much worse.

“I had been riding for 40 minutes and as we were climbing a narrow, steep country lane, a dark Kia overtook us slowly and with a wide berth.

“The Kia continued up the hill with me directly behind, where a black VW had stopped waiting to come down the hill.

PIC FROM MERCURY PRESS

“Out of nowhere came a gold Volvo. It overtook the waiting car heading directly towards us.

“He then tried to pass the Kia but instantly mounted the bank. At this point, I was shouting and screaming ‘no, no, no. Stop stop stop.’

“I could see he was going to tip. It happened so quickly. At no stage did he slow, stop or try to reverse – it was all one fluid movement.

“I heard the revving of his engine and his tyres crunching and slipping – clearly he was still trying to force his way through.”

In reaction to the split-second accident, Stacey’s horse bolted down the hill towards oncoming traffic as she frantically tried to stay on the animal’s back.

She claims the Volvo driver showed little concern about the incident, which completely destroyed his windscreen and damaged the body of his car.

Stacey had serious injuries including back and shoulder muscle damage, which have required physiotherapy.

Stacey said: “At this point my horse started to run backwards, the car then flipped and I didn’t see anymore as the awful noise of crunching metal and smashing glass happened. My mare reared and spun to bolt in flight mode.

“I heard the car land as she was bolting down the steepest part towards oncoming traffic.

PIC FROM MERCURY PRESS

“I genuinely feared for my life as I couldn’t pull my horse up. She was galloping full-pelt down slippery tarmac but thankfully she slowed and stopped at the sight of oncoming cars.

“Me and my horse were shaking all over. The Volvo driver just said ‘sorry, it was an accident.’ He was rather nonchalant and didn’t appear to be in shock.

“The Kia driver’s young daughters, who were around four and six-years-old, were screaming and in severe shock. They kept repeating ‘we thought we were going to die’ and both were pale-white and shaking.

“Only because someone was looking down on us did I stay on and my horse not slip and break her legs while fleeing downhill.

“He didn’t even listen to my screams telling him to stop – he just revved his engine more.

“I was a nervous wreck. I want to make people aware of just how little room there is on country roads and the reaction of horses when they spook or bolt. It can be devastating or fatal.”

Following the accident, which is still being investigated by Kent Police, Stacey has had to wave goodbye to the chance of competing in endurance races, instead helping her horse recover slowly.

She has even been left questioning if she can ever go back on the road again, despite having ridden since the age of just nine.

Stacey said: “Both of us haven’t been out on the road since the accident. Revuelo actually got severe whiplash through her left shoulder.

“I’ve been told to only lightly ride her and stretch her neck as she recovers. We were supposed to be competing this Sunday but I haven’t been back on the road with her.

“It’s going to take me quite a bit of time to get our confidence back up and I’ll have to make sure I’m with other people.

“When she whipped around quickly, it pulled all the right-hand side of my back and shoulder. I’m better now but I’ve had to have some sport physiotherapy.

“The shock of it has made me think ‘do I want to go back on the road’?

“I started riding when I was nine and full-time riding when I was 18. This summer I was hoping to take my mares endurance riding so Revuelo and I were out at least twice a week – that’s down the drain now.”

In the last two years, 81% of incidents involving horses and cars occurred because drivers did not allow enough room between their car and the animal.

The British Horse Society advise all drivers to be patient, slow down to 15mph and leave at least a car’s width between their vehicle and the horse when passing.

The director of safety at the British Horse Society, Alan Hiscox, said: “This incident is absolutely shocking, I wish the rider and horse a speedy recovery.

“Unfortunately, incidents like this are far too common, riders face a very real threat when they are out on our roads.

“We are asking all drivers adhere to our Dead Slow message and slow right down when they encounter a horse on a road, passing only when it’s safe to do so at an absolute maximum of 15mph and leaving at least a car width between them and the horse.”

A spokesperson from Kent Police said: “Kent Police was called at 12.44pm on Monday 23 October 2017 to reports of a collision involving two vehicles on Holly Hill, Snodland. A horse and rider were also at the scene.

“Officers are conducting ongoing enquiries.”