three-day eventer has won compensation from the Ministry of Defence
after she was badly hurt when her horse was "spooked"
by low-flying aircraft.
Jane Smith (corr) and her exhausted mount were both injured after
a group of RAF fighter jets screamed overhead as she neared her
gelding, named Ben Chruachan, would normally have been almost unmoved
by the planes that regularly criss-cross rural Lincolnshire.
the jets powered in so low as he and Sasha came to the end of an
exhausting seven-mile hack that the four-year-old was left terrified.
reared up and toppled backwards into a ditch as the planes passed,
leaving Sasha with severe back injuries, a flattened pelvis and
Chruachan was also badly injured in the incident, suffering cuts
to his legs after landing on top of spikes in a ditch that was due
to be concreted.
was only because she somehow managed to roll out of the way in time
that Sasha didn't end up trapped between her mount and the spikes.
the MoD has agreed to pay her a yet-to-be-finalised compensation
and to discipline any pilot found to have broken regulations on
potential figure has not been revealed, but it is believed to run
into thousands of pounds to cover her trauma and damage to her horse.
the deep lacerations to his legs have not yet healed months later,
Ben Chruachan's resale value has essentially been destroyed.
22, said: "The horse was used to low aircraft and normally
okay, but suddenly a formation of extremely low-flying jets appeared
over the trees.
reared up and fell backwards, straight into the ditch. It was only
luck that I managed to get out from under him before he hit the
had never seen aircraft so low before. I understand they need to
practise, but it would help prevent another accident if we knew
when they were flying."
the drama in Stenigot, Lincs, there have been two further "spooking"
incidents in the area - although neither had serious consequences.
originally from Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Scotland, works full-time
as a three-day eventer and moved to Lincolnshire to help train horses.
came second in the intermediate section of last year's Scottish
three-day eventing championships - competing only weeks after the
the age of 16 she was a member of the Scottish Talented Young Riders
three-day evening squad, from which the full national team graduates.
since the incident she has had to deal with constant pain even when
she is simply training - and Ben Cruachan has been unable to compete.
the accident, she said: "I was very lucky not to have been
crushed, because Ben Cruachan weighs half a tonne.
competed in the Scottish championships just eight weeks after it
happened. I was in a tremendous amount of pain, but somehow I got
now I still have pain when I'm walking, and I find it quite hard
in training. I've had to adapt my riding style because of the injuries
to my back.
still having weekly osteotherapy, and Ben Cruachan hasn't been able
to compete since - I don't know if he will ever be able to compete
MoD spokeswoman insisted the sheer number of aircraft on low-flying
practice meant it was impractical for warnings to be issued to horse
she added: "All complaints are thoroughly investigated. If
it is found a military pilot has breached the regulations then disciplinary
action will be taken.
try to avoid flying over horses where possible. We spread low flying
over a wide area of air space in the UK so it isn't just one community
months ago a horsewoman was thrown thrown to her death in Lincolnshire
after her terrified mount was allegedly spooked by a low-flying
Bell, 38, was out riding with two friends when her animal was "buzzed"
by a Chinook chopper that soared over tiny Middle Rasen.
RAF spokesman said at the time: "It is not unusual for animals
to be frightened by low-flying aircraft, but this is an exceptional
inquest into Mrs Bell's death, which has been investigated by police
with the co-operation of the MoD, is expected to be held later this