A horse trainer has spoken of her devastation after a crash which left her with a shattered pelvis and resulted in the death of her beloved horse.
Beverley Berrill, 51, of Spatham Lane, Ditchling, told the Middy she will not be able to walk without crutches for three months following the accident on September 28, which left her in hospital for ten days.
She was trotting home to Burntinholmes Livery Yard, where she has lived and worked for the past 20 years when the crash happened.
A car and Beverley’s horse were in collision, causing her to be thrown and her horse to suffer a broken hip – resulting in the animal being put down.
She now wants to raise awareness of the danger on country roads.
“It all happened very quickly,” Beverley said.
Suddenly I heard a bang and I was thrown to the ground.Beverley Berrill
“I was trotting home and I had my pony on a lead. I was suddenly aware of a car coming behind me.
“You are very aware of traffic when you are riding.
“Suddenly I heard a bang and I was thrown to the ground.
“I could see Norsey, my horse of 12 years was hurt, her leg was broken. She was such a beautiful horse.
“I was lying on my side. A man got out of a car and came over, the neighbours started coming out and called for an ambulance and my husband. People were incredible.”
Beverley said the impact of her injury had been ‘huge’, but it had made her determined to campaign for safety improvements to be made to the road, which is used by many horse riders.
“I had a very active lifestyle and went riding everyday,” she said.
“I was also an instructor and trained horses and ran the yard. I am having to pay someone to run it for me. And I lost my horse – I am devastated.
“But I am strong and determined to get something done about this road.”
When the accident happened Beverley rang her friend of 20 years Maggie Hatton for help.
Maggie, 56, of Silverdale Road, Burgess Hill, said: “I stopped everything and got there as soon as I could.
“I could see Norsey’s leg was at an odd angle and she was in shock, the sweat was pouring off her and she was shaking and her breath was shallow.
“The vet came and sedated her to make her comfortable. She had a look and said it wasn’t good because her leg was broken and there was no choice but to put her down at the side of the road.
“Eddie the pony was luckily OK and he was keeping Norsey calm. A lady was looking after Eddie while everything was going on, she was fantastic.
“I told Beverley I was here for her and I was going to look after her horses. She has 11 which is a lot to look after, I have since made a rota and phoned people straight away to help me.
“She has got a long recovery ahead of her – we don’t know how long. She was so active, she does not sit down for five minutes. It has been a tremendous shock for her and she has lost a horse.”
Sussex Police said of the incident in a statement: “The driver involved, a 19-year-old man from Burgess Hill, has been reported for driving without due care and attention (Section 3, Road Traffic Act) but it has not yet been decided if he should go to court or be given the opportunity to attend a driver training course.”
Beverley and Maggie agree that speed of traffic in general on country lanes in the area was a concern for horse riders, cyclists and walkers.
Maggie said: “There are six livery yards in the lane and us riders must ride along the road to reach the nearest bridlepath.
“We don’t go at peak times and instead choose to go at quiet spots during the day as we don’t want to get in the way of people.
“That’s what Beverley did – it was in the middle of the day and she thought she was safe.
“Everyone I have spoken to about the accident is upset and a lot of riders haven’t ridden down that road since. All of our horses are good on the road.
“We are in fear and we are worried, but you can’t be worried in front of your horse as they sense it and they will start to worry. Something needs to be done.”
A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “We have a limited budget available for the introduction of road safety measures and need to ensure that we focus our resources in areas where evidence shows it is most needed, and will produce the greatest benefit.
“While we are unable to consider Spatham Lane as a high priority scheme, we are happy to discuss the possibility of the parish council applying to the Community Match Fund.
“This initiative involves an organisation, such as a parish council, paying a share of the design and construction costs, and allows the county council to help fund projects which are important to communities.
“With more than 95 per cent of all road accidents caused by driver behaviour, we will continue to work with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership to find ways to make the county’s roads safer for all users.”