AN 86-year-old woman who was seriously injured by a cow said it felt like being “knocked down by a tank” after the animal charged at her to protect its calf.
Amelia Borelli was attacked near her home at Fritham, near Bramshaw, while she was walking her dog in the Forest.
She was repeatedly gored by the cow which ripped her jeans from the ankle to her thigh before plunging its horn into her leg.
Amelia admitted she thought she was going to die as the animal continued to attack her while she desperately tried to escape.
She had inadvertently come between the cow and her calf which was hidden by bushes. Describing the attack, Amelia said: “I couldn’t believe it was happening. It felt like I was being knocked down by a tank.”
Amelia said she feared for her life as she tried to escape the attack, revealing: “Once she stopped I was frightened she would come again. I thought ‘Oh God, is she going to come and jump on my back?’.
“It was all very frightening.”
She was rushed to hospital after the incident last month where she spent a week being treated for serious injuries including a huge hole in her thigh, severe bruising and cuts.
Having lived all her life in Fritham, she walks almost daily in the Forest. Speaking to Radio Solent, she said on the day of the attack she saw the cow “staring at me”.
She went on: “Its stance was kind of poised and, never having any trouble with cows in the New Forest before, it didn’t occur to me that it might charge. I just thought ‘I don’t like the look of this cow, I’m going to turn left and walk away from it’.
“In seconds, something made me turn my head, and the cow was right in front of me. I then threw up my arms and said ‘No!’ knowing it was too late.”
Amelia said the cow then “banged” her to the ground and used its horns to gore her, ripping through her jeans.
She revealed: “It ripped my jeans, then plunged its horn into my thigh.”
Her leg was badly injured and she says she is still recovering from the awful attack, adding: “I feel lucky to be alive.”
She is now warning others not to go near livestock at all, saying: “I would just keep my distance.”
Amelia is also calling for more signage to be put up warning people to keep away from the animals in the Forest.
Tony Hockley, from the Commoners Defence Association, said attacks like the one on Amelia are rare “given that we have 15 million visitors a year”.
He said: “I am relieved that the lady who was dog-walking and injured is now recovering, and grateful that she is using her experience to warn others. ‘Keep your distance’ is a message that we and our partners have been promoting for a long time, and is worth repeating.
“However well-behaved and controlled our own dogs are, and however many times we may have walked on the Forest, there is no way of knowing what the last dog to pass the herd did.
“The undisturbed grazing of the animals is vital to keeping the common land of the New Forest special for everyone. Every animal matters to its owner.
“To keep everyone safe, it is vital that we all make sure we keep a good distance from livestock, however tame they may look, and that we keep our dogs under close control.
“Thankfully incidents are rare considering that there are more than four million dog walks on the Forest every year.”
He also called for more signage saying he would like to see warnings on “every access point to the Forest”.
Dr Hockley added: “We are very pleased to see that the National Trust has been putting notices at access points reminding people of the Countryside Code and the law, and hope that the Forestry Commission will add to the notices that it has put out in a few sites on the parts of the New Forest that it is responsible for.”
Speaking on Radio Solent, he said that it was up to the individual landowners in the Forest to “take the decision to put signs up”.
He also said people seem to have “generally forgotten” the Countryside Code and behaviour around livestock.
He said holidaymakers were especially at risk as “they seem to think it [the Forest] is a petting zoo and the animals are tame”.
Forestry England says it is working on increasing the number of warning signs in the Forest, adding: “We intend to increase signage at smaller sites once all the appropriate agreements are in place.”