A LIFE SAVEDA Life Saved – Jenny’s Story
Jenny lives in Romsey with her partner Matthew. She keeps her horses on a nearby farm in West Dean where they have 500 acres of beautiful land to ride and roam. Jenny has owned horses all her life and is a competent rider. On 2nd May 2018, Jenny was riding Crystal, a 20-year-old Irish Draught cross Thoroughbred Mare. Jenny has owned Crystal since she was 6 months old.
“The 2nd of May 2018 was a beautiful spring day. The chores were done, and I was free to do what I wanted with the day. So, I headed straight up to the horse yard, fetched Crystal from the field, tacked her up and we were away.
“I didn’t give it a second thought to the fact that there was no one else at the yard and no one in the world knew where I was going.
“Within 15-20 minutes we were heading out on a dirt track byway which was rutted with all-terrain vehicle tracks. I was going to head into a huge hayfield, but as that involved work, Crystal decided we should use the byway! It was such a lovely day, that I decided to let Crystal lead the way.
“As we headed along the track the ruts were getting deeper, when all of a sudden Crystal lost her balance completely. She fell and landed on her left side, trapping my left thigh. It happened so quickly that I was still in a perfect riding position!
“I hadn’t fallen off my horse, I was trapped beneath her.”
“We were not on a dog walking route, so the chances that I would be discovered were small and the odds that anyone would be able to hear me were even less. It soon became clear that I was completely trapped. I couldn’t pull my leg out and Crystal was panicking and trying to roll to get upright. Unfortunately, she was stuck in a rut with her legs elevated slightly in the air, so the only way she could struggle to get up was by rolling further onto me. It was a scary and painful experience.
“I quickly undid the saddle for the little protection it offered as all her weight was on top of me. My mobile phone was in my jacket pocket, but I looked and saw to my dismay that there was no signal in the area. 999 calls do not work either when you have no service.”
Trapped and stranded, Jenny tried to hold the phone as high in the air as she could reach, but after 10 minutes, she still had no signal. To make matters worse, she had now lost the feeling in her left leg.
“My mind started to wonder, and I thought about what might happen to me. Would my leg have to be amputated? I remember thinking ‘it would be pretty difficult to ride with only one leg.’ It’s funny the things that go through your mind in these circumstances.
“Then another thought… ‘If I die, I don’t want anyone to think that I was just lazy and didn’t try to dig myself out.’ So that’s what I did. I dug with my hands in the mud, through clay and flints to the side beneath my thigh. Every 30 seconds I checked my phone for signal. The digging was futile, but I felt it was important to keep trying.
“Another 20 minutes had passed. I checked my phone for what felt like the hundredth time and I finally got one bar of service! I felt like the squirrel from the film Ice Age! I couldn’t move the phone for fear of losing that one bar. Not wasting any time, I hit redial. The phone rang and to my absolute relief, my other half answered. I quickly advised him that I was stuck under the horse and asked if he understood where I was. ‘Yes’ he said. ‘What shall I do?’ My other half is not a horsey person, so he didn’t understand the dire situation I was in.
“I told him to call the Fire Brigade, the Air Ambulance, in fact I told him to call them all. Then the phone went silent. The signal was gone.
“I was alone once again but now Crystal started to panic and decided to try and get up again. More pain followed, then Crystal got her head into a puddle of water and started making Jurassic Park noises. I thought ‘That horse is going to be dramatic to the end’.”
Jenny’s partner found her 25 minutes later. The Fire and Rescue Service and an ambulance arrived soon after but the ambulance couldn’t get up the dirt track. They eventually were able to reach Jenny by using the farm owner’s Land Rover.
“We could hear the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance overhead, trying to locate us. As they were being directed to the hayfield adjacent to the track, Crystal decided it was a good time to make a final struggle to stand. It worked! She was upright, covered from head to hoof in clay mud. She was so distressed that she didn’t bolt, and my other half moved in to walk her away. She didn’t even notice the helicopter land.
“The Air Ambulance Critical Care Team were first to get to me. They were great. They kept calm and asked me questions while they checked me over. It looked like my foot was at a very strange angle, but upon closer inspection, it seemed that Crystal must have stood on my boot whilst getting up and pulled my boot half off.
“I could wiggle my toes and within about 10-15 minutes, I felt pins and needles and some feeling coming back into my leg. They were pleased to see I had no back injuries and thought it best that I went down to the land ambulance to continue to be checked over. The Critical Care Team helped me up and into the Land Rover.
“They spent about an hour checking out my hip, leg, ankle, foot, blood pressure etc in the ambulance. I was asked loads of questions to ascertain what my body had gone through and where the pain was, and I was warned about the possibility of blood clots, as my blood had been cut off for about 1 hour 30 minutes.
“I was in a lot of pain for two weeks following the incident, but I did eventually go back to work. My other half was quite traumatised by the incident and Crystal took about 6 months to recover. She is still not 100%, so we have retired her – we could not rule out that this would not happen again.
“Having had a personal encounter with the Air Ambulance, I wanted to donate to their very worthy cause. I still cannot believe they are funded by voluntary donations alone. It’s an amazing service, with highly qualified medics, and quite frankly I wonder where we would be without them.
“When anyone asks me which charity they should fundraise for, I will say Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance every time. They are in my Will, and when my mum died, I ensured that there were only family flowers and that all other donations went to the Charity. I am a firm supporter and I don’t think that will ever change.”