Woman kicked in face by horse during dog attack

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

Helen Hart-Mitchell has been riding horses in Kent for 45 years. But this is the first time one of them has caused her to end up in hospital. 

She says she was left "petrified" after her ponies were attacked by dogs while out riding near Margate. She was kicked in the face during the ordeal, while a child was bitten on the foot. 

She recalled the incident, saying: "These dogs are savagely grabbing at Milo's throat, and neck, grabbing hold of a child. They were trying to bring that pony down savagely to kill it".

  • Helen Hart-Mitchell reflects on the incident

Helen was exercising her two ponies on Margate beach who were being ridden by Jasmine and Anabel, two eleven-year-old girls.

During the attack Jasmine's foot was bitten but thankfully her boots prevented any lasting physical damage. 

The injury sustained by Milo from the dog attack Credit: ITV News Meridian

It follows an incident in Sussex, that was caught on camera, in which three dogs encircled a rider.

In that incident, rider Charlotte Hutt was on the South Downs near Brighton where the dogs were biting her stallion's legs, whilst avoiding powerful kicks from the horse.

Helen sustained significant bruising to the face Credit: ITV News Meridian

This incident in Margate may not have caused any physical damage to the riders, but there has been a mental impact. Helen says: "They're traumatised by this, they really are. Their parents have phoned up and said that they're in tears about this".

It's against the law for an owner to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control, but some have called for stricter legislation to be considered.

  • Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour Service Delivery, Blue Cross animal charity

Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour Service Delivery, Blue Cross animal charity, says: "I think the laws do need to be reviewed, and I think clearer guidance needs to be set out. We should intervene a lot sooner and have our dogs under much closer control".

Kent Police says its investigations into this incident from January are still "ongoing" and officers have spoken to "both parties" and are keeping those involved "updated as appropriate".

Jasmine, Anabel and Helen on a previous ride Credit: ITV News Meridian

Jasmine and Anabel are now back in the saddle.

With many happy years of horse-riding ahead of them, they hope they'll never be confronted by an out-of-control dog again