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Julia’s Weekly Column For The Middy

Danger on the Downs: don’t let those beautiful views distract you from your safety

This is a lovely time of year for hacking on the Downs.

The heat of the summer is behind us, and so are the accompanying flies and sweat. And the cloying mud and finger numbing cold are yet to come. But if you are lucky enough to be one of those who not only have your own pony or horse, but also live close enough to hack up on the Downs, beware the gates!

Years ago I cared for equine patients as well as smaller pets. When I was on call, a regular task would be the call to come and stitch up a wound a pony had acquired. I became very adept at the ‘local anaesthetic, shave and stitch’ routine.

But this occasion was extraordinary! My patient was waiting for me near a gate at the top of the Downs, nowhere near a road. Its owners expected me to park on Underhill Lane, and trot up to them via the near vertical bridlepath (or so it seemed to me!), carrying all my equipment. It was lucky I had had so much practice already, and I had complete confidence that everything I would need was together in a convenient box.

The pony had barged through the narrow gate before its rider was ready, too excited about the gallop ahead to consider either her booted foot in the stirrup, or even itself. The consequence was an injury to her foot, which had been protected by the leather, and a 6 inch gash in the pony’s side. I have never sutured a wound with such a picturesque panoramic view around me.

So please remember to take extra care when hacking on the Downs. I can get there, but I don’t want your bad circumstances to be the reason that I get to admire the amazing view.

Don’t forget to send us your photos for our Calendar 2017 Competition. It’s free to enter for all pet owners, and the winner will receive £100 of their choice of pet food. The top shots will be used to create a beautiful 2017 calendar to be sold in aid of wonderful local charity Paws and Claws. Last year we raised over £500, and we would like to do even better this year! The closing date for your entry is 31st October 2016. Send your entries, together with your name and email address, to enquiries@themewes.co.uk.

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