Horses left with swollen legs following ‘traumatic’ forest hack

A rider is urging other equestrians to take care when hacking in a County Down forest.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 4:32 pm

Claire Smyth described a recent visit to Drumkeeragh Forest, on the lower slopes of Slieve Croob, as “very traumatic” after two horses went through boggy ground on the ‘horse trail’.

Indeed, Claire feared her daughter may have been crushed under the weight of her ride as the mare went “right down”.

Claire said a sign erected on the trail, near to the car park, stating ‘soft underfoot’ is a “slight understatement”.

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Drumkeeragh Forest.

“My friend’s horse was right up his back legs when he went through the soft ground,” she explained.

“My mare fell down into a bog hole at the side of it.

“[My daughter] Zara was able to get off her quickly and, thankfully, Tilly got up onto the path.

“It was a very traumatic morning. I won’t be visiting here with the horses any time soon.”

Speaking to the Farming Life, Claire said one rider in their group had crossed the bog but was too scared to ride back that way.

“She had to head on up the trail.

“Further up it, she came to another bog,” she revealed.

“Thankfully, she knows the forest well and was able to cut across onto a forest path and get back to the car park.”

The concerned equestrian said two other friends had previously encountered a problem in this exact spot, however, she had been unaware of this as they headed off along the same path at the weekend.

Now, she wants to raise awareness of the danger and is hoping action will be taken to prevent further incidents during the winter months.

“I’d hate for a horse or rider to get hurt here,” Claire continued.

“The forest paths are fine, just not the horse trail.

“My horse and [my friend] Kate’s both have a swollen leg each.

“Hopefully, they will be OK in a few days.

“It really could have been a lot worse.

“I was scared my horse might have crushed my daughter as she went right down.

“Thankfully, Zara is young and fit and was able to hop off very quickly,” Claire ended.

The Forest Service has been contacted for a response.