“Lucky to be alive,” says doctor after anti-hunt activist trampled by horse
37-year-old factory worker Sam Morley of Staffordshire Hunt Saboteurs was monitoring an illegal fox hunt in the Shropshire area on 15th January 2022 when he was trampled by one of the horses from the hunt. As a result, he was hospitalised and was told by Doctors that he was “lucky to be alive”.
West Midlands ambulance service were called to the scene at 3.16pm on Saturday 15th January 2022 after receiving reports of an incident where a person had been injured after collision with a horse. Mr Morley was taken away by paramedics on a spinal board as they were concerned about potential damage to his neck. Mr Morley was diagnosed with concussion and muscle trauma to his back and upper neck, and was discharged home where he has remained confined to his bed and prescribed strong pain medication. He is currently unable to return to work due to the accident during which Mr Morley reports that he “lost consciousness for a few seconds”.
He stated that around 15-20 riders rode towards him and described the horse that was involved in the incident as not “at a full gallop, but was going at a canter, I would say it must have been about 20mph and the impact just knocked the stuffing out of me completely”. He said.
“We had been monitoring the group to make sure they were not hunting foxes and I was on a public footpath through a field at the time.
“A group of around 15 to 20 horses galloped closely to us from behind at first, I guess in an attempt to intimidate us. If that wasn’t enough, they then turned back around and started charging towards us.
“We are told to stay still in these circumstances as you can never second guess the direction the horses will go and the onus is on the rider to avoid a collision. But this horse crashed straight into me and I heard my bones crunch as it did so. I have no doubt it was deliberate ”
The hunt is aware of the incident which occurred while the mounted riders crossed private farmland. A spokesman for the hunt said “the hunt follower was very shocked about what happened so reported the incident to hunt officials and they immediately returned to offer assistance to the injured party and also informed the police.
“The Hunt wishes Mr Morley a speedy recovery and will, of course, assist the police with any further enquiries regarding this matter.”
West Mercia police have confirmed that they will be investigating the incident and have confirmed they are aware of of a video circulating on social media purporting to show the moment that Mr Morley was injured.
Staffordshire Hunt Saboteurs confirmed that Mr Morley is one of their activists. On their social media page (Facebook) the group claims that “the rider rode deliberately at speed before fleeing the scene, laughing”. They also allege that members of the Hunt were seen swiftly returning to the meet point to box up and return home, several of whom were seen to be laughing and shouted to the activists that they were “allowed to canter up and down in the fields”.
They further claim that the involved rider’s partner has also recently attempted to push a saboteur out of the road using her horse and that another rider from the same hunt had dismounted and threatened a lone female saboteur.
Tensions often run high between members of Hunts and Saboteurs; On boxing day 2021, punches were thrown during a meet in Lacock, Wiltshire where several dozen protestors were reported to be demonstrating, with at least two sustaining injuries. During that incident, the groups were successfully dispersed and no arrests were made.
At a recent annual general meeting on 30th October 2021, the National Trust voted to permanently ban ‘trail hunting’ on their land and will issue no further licenses for this type of hunt based on “a wide range of considerations”. Natural Resources Wales have also recently decided to permanently ban trail hunting on their land after a decision by its Board not to renew its agreement with the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
A specialist crash investigator, who has documented 200 ‘near misses’, has warned that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed by hunt activity.
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