AN event rider may never compete again after her horse was badly injured when a car ploughed into them from behind in Sway.
Sally-Anne Miller (48), who lives in the village, revealed her shock and trauma, adding she was “very, very lucky” to escape serious injury in the Pitmore Lane incident on the morning of 2nd November.
It has caused the passionate horse rider to issue a heartfelt plea to motorists to slow down and take care in the New Forest when they encounter vulnerable road users, such as horse riders and cyclists.
“Please, please take care when you are driving,” she urged.
Sally-Anne said her nine-year-old 16.1hh Irish sports horse, Girlie, needed emergency surgery, and she was left with bruises and a sprained wrist after the incident.
“We were going along Pitmore Lane and were just walking. I was wearing a hi-vis tabard, and it was all nice and peaceful and then all of a sudden, bang!” she told the A&T.
The small car hit Girlie on its hindquarters with such force Sally-Anne was knocked into a Hawthorne bush, and the noise caused neighbours to run out to see what had happened.
She claimed the motorist stopped further down the road and told her he had not seen them.
Fighting back tears, she told the A&T: “It’s now going to be months and months before I know whether she will be able to compete in competitions again. She’s had to have 12 staples because of the lacerations caused to her hindquarters.
“What people don’t see, though, is all the things I now have to do in terms for her, the distress she’s in and the worry I have, not being able to ride her and maybe never at an event again.
“To be honest it was very, very lucky I wasn’t badly injured. But this has had such an emotional trauma, though. I’m just frightened now, whenever I go out. It was awful.
“She was such a placid, lovely horse, and who knows what she will be like once this is all over.”
Sally-Anne bought Girlie – whose passport name is My Bay Girl – when she was five years old in 2016, and they have competed in 25 affiliated one-day events.
In 2019 they achieved five top-10 finishes, including two third places, in 90cm and 100cm British Eventing showcases – the Mecca for amateur eventers which can give successful riders the chance to compete at Badminton.
“The partnership we have has taken time, money and effort to achieve results,” Sally-Anne said.
Sally-Anne, who has ridden in the Forest for nearly five decades, said she wanted to talk about the impact of the crash to coincide with the British Horse Society’s Road Safety Week 2020.
Appealing directly to motorists to take care, she said: “You may think these animals are domesticated but they are flight animals and they retain that instinct.
“They can get spooked by all sorts of noises. I was wearing a hi-vis in bright sunlight in the morning, and I was still hit.
“Please, please if you are driving just take the utmost care around us riders and the horses. Please slow down, go to 15mph if you can, and give way. People are giving each other two metres because of Covid, please give us two metres as well.”
A Hampshire police spokesman confirmed the force attended the incident, adding: “No charges were brought against the driver of the vehicle as there were no offences.
“The collision is being dealt with through insurance, and both parties exchanged details. A full investigation was completed and no further action was taken.”