As a mature apprentice with my riding road safety and stage 2 exams under my belt I was qualified enough at my training yard to escort hacks. No stranger to hacking, I had hacked my own horses out with kids at the yard I grew up on and was usually the responsible adult when I went with my Mum and friends.
So ths particular January day, my yard manager told me I was taking a hack out, of girls from the local uni. Great I thought, good company and not having to go at a snails pace.
I had a selection of mounts; a roan 13hh pony, a 17hh gentle giant, a 16hh mare, 15hh beginners mare, and a speedy 14.2hh Welsh section D for myself.
The girls arrived and I introduced myself, and discovered that there were 2 experienced riders and 2 lesser experienced, but had still ridden previously. With guidance from my yard manager I mounted them accordingly.the smallest girl, one of the most experienced, ended up on the pony and the two more novice were on the gentle giant and beginners mount. Fine.
Everyone comfortable, off we go.through the woods and out into our back field. “shall we have a little trot?” I ask, thinking the gentle uphill will keep the lid on the horses. Everyone was up for it, so off we went. Instantly there was a scream. The girl riding the pony was on the floor. We all stop and I dismount and catch said great who was looking suitably mollified. I checked the girl over as best I could but she said her arm hurt as she’d landed on it, but other than that she was fine. I offered her the choice of going back and she refused saying she didn’t want to spill the others ride. She didn’t want to ride the pony again though as he’d bucked.
In a predicament I offered her mine- none of the others were small enough or game enough to ride the bucking bronco. She decided she’d be fine on mine, so I helped her up with difficulty as her arm was useless. Then I vaulted on and off we set.
I took it slowly through other woods, but we had to cross another field to return home, my injured client was in pain, but wouldn’t say, and the Welshie was predictably excited. We walked thru the gate to the field and suddenly, gentle giant galloped off! Closely pursued by Welshie. Both girls are screaming, I’m sitting to sky high bucks, and then the other two are off. I have no choice but to follow, and manage to pull up on the brow just in time to see gentle giant bunny hop to a halt and catapult his rider headfirst to the ground.
Before I even get to then I’m ringing for back up, so I assess my latest faller, who just seems to have a large bruise on her head. There’s no way she’s riding back though. Thankfully we were 10 mins from home, and back up arrived in the shape of another apprentice to ride the pony back, I’m left riding gentle giant and leading Welshie whilst the casualties are driven back to the yard.
My first entry into the accident book and they’re both off to hospital… The shame of it! One had concussion and the other had a broken collar bone.
The story was retold for days, and I had my 5 minutes of fame… But when discussing it with my mentor about how I could’ve acted, we realised that a) the new routine of all horses living in with limited turnout was not a viable option for the riding school as they all became lunatics, and b) hacks should be proceeded by an assessment lesson. Oh and c) these things can happen to anybody so I should learn from it and move on.