Recalling the Alpine road incident reminded me of another time I got quite a fright.
In the mid 90s I was working as an all-round dogsbody in a B&B and riding holiday centre in France, and as well as cooking and cleaning I was sometimes allowed to help with the horses.
One day I was tasked with taking out a new horse, Shaun, to get him use to trekking out in the local woods.
Leading the way was my rather unpleasant Canadian colleague, Pauline, on one of the old implacable hacks, who had seen it all before.
Shaun, on the other hand, was a 16.3hh chestnut Thoroughbred, about 4 years old, completely skittish and ungainly, with hooves the size of dinner plates.
Out on the ride I discovered that Shaun had a phobia of mud, and as we got to another patch of damp ground he stopped dead and refused to move forward.
For some reason I was in a rather bad mood that day (the company? hormones?), and I jumped off and started to lead, or rather drag Shaun by the reins through the mud. Any horsey people will have their heads in their hands by now as they will be aware that horses do not have good vision directly in front of them, and standing in front of a young, nervous animal is never a good idea.
Suddenly I felt a ‘whumph!’ against my back as Shaun jumped the mud patch and I was under his hooves curling myself into a little ball. Then ‘wham!’ one of those enormous hooves slammed into my thigh, and I remember thinking that’s my leg smashed to pieces, and I’m going to die.
The next thing I remember I was standing up again, with the ever unsympathetic Pauline saying hurry up, you’d better get back on again as we need to get home.
Somehow we did, and I had a feeling my leg wasn’t actually broken. In the end I was just left with a severe haematoma, as a clinician would call it, and shock that lasted a few days.
I certainly learnt a lot from that experience. And yes I was wearing a hard hat, but I am happy to say it proved to be redundant on that occasion.
Next instalment: The Brixton Nailbomber.