A BRODIE woman was hospitalised for four days after being thrown from her horse when a loose dog charged them.
Deborah Jones was riding her stallion Nemo at the Snab of Moy on the edge of Culbin Forrest on Saturday, May 26 at around 4pm when a man appeared with a big, blonde-coloured dog that ran and leaped at the horse.
“His dog ran straight at us,” said Deborah. “No horse would be comfortable with that.
“I don’t know exactly what happened next but I do know the dog was out of control because the owner tried to call it back but couldn’t.
“I vaguely recall blue lights ... luckily, I just had concussion, bruising and a cracked rib.”
Deborah’s phone records show she made calls to friends and her partner Steve for help.
Steve said: “The man had his dog on a short leash when I arrived. The horse was between him and Deborah.
“He sad that an ambulance wasn’t required but Deborah’s eyes were rolling and she was trying to be sick. The man left as I called 999.
“The ambulance guys didn’t move her for 30 minutes until they’d completely strapped her up. They were concerned about her having a head injury.”
Deborah was rushed to Raigmore under blue lights only being released days later after observation.
The equine enthusiast owns three horses and has been riding for 48 years. However, the incident has left her shaken and wary of a repeat.
“It’s not the first time this has happened,” she said. “The number of incidents is increasing - I’ve heard from friends about out-of-control dogs chasing their horses. One of the police officers I reported it to admitted his horses riding colleague avoids Culbin for this reason. My vet also said he won’t allow his daughter to ride there either.”
She added: “I’m a very experienced rider but this has knocked my confidence and I haven’t been back.”
Deborah and Steve have spoken to the Forestry Commission, the local councillors, MP and MSP, as well as the police about the incident.
Deborah said: “There was some confusion from the police about what they could do. They referred to a he-says-she-says scenario, implying that only photo film evidence would be admissible without witnesses.
“However, the Forestry Commission were really helpful. They said Culbin is becoming increasingly popular with walkers so more incidents are coming to light. They are putting up warning posters at Wellhill car park.”
She finished: “We hope the local politicians will help us raise awareness and make the horse trails safer or else someone is going to end up getting killed. I’m not telling anyone to stop walking their dogs, but please be respectful of other path-users, including horse riders.”
Police confirmed confirmed enquiries are ongoing in liaision with the dog warden.
Inspector Grant McCutcheon said: “As this incident shows, dogs can on occasion cause horses to panic and react, so we would urge all dog owners to always keep their dog under close control and put on a lead when they see a horse.
“It also goes to show why it is so important that riders are highly visible wherever they are riding and wear a riding hat that meets the current safety standards.”