A STARTLED pony may have caused a fatal road collision that killed its rider, an inquest heard.
Linda Harding, 59, of Titchfield Common, was riding her grey Highland pony Flumpy when it collided with a Vauxhall Corsa in Fleet End Road, Warsash, on February 8 this year.
The inquest into her death at Portsmouth coroner’s office heard how Ms Harding, known as Lindy to her friends, was on a routine ride when Flumpy emerged from a bridleway and hit the rear offside of the car, which was driven by Denise King.
Mrs King said she was on her way from work when the incident happened and described a ‘shadow’ appearing in her window before a loud bang.
She said: ‘I thought “oh my god” and thought someone was attacking my car.
‘I didn’t know what was happening, I was just in shock.
‘I kept thinking if I had left earlier it wouldn’t have happened.’
Mrs King said the force of the impact left her car facing the opposite direction in the middle of the road and said she comforted Ms Harding before the emergency services arrived.
Police investigator PC Tracey Saunders said Mrs King was likely to have instinctively swerved to avoid the collision as there were no tyre marks from braking on the road.
She also added scratch marks measuring 1.4 metres long on the pavement could suggest Flumpy tried to stop before hitting the car.
Sian Hatfull told the inquest she was putting things into her nearby parked car when she heard the noise of a ‘horse galloping’ and saw Ms Harding ride past her.
She said: ‘She looked at me and I looked at her. She looked worried and was trying to get the horse to stop.
‘She disappeared from view for a bit but it was a matter of seconds. I heard a scream and then a loud thud.’
A report from pathologist Barbara Borek found Ms Harding’s death was due to severe chest injuries, including fractured ribs, a broken sternum and a collapsed lung.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Karen Harrold, assistant deputy coroner, said: ‘No one can give a clear reason why Flumpy galloped out on to the road or why Linda wasn’t able to control the horse on this occasion.
‘She was intending to go about her normal daily routine – she was a passionate person and had a high degree of skills and gained enjoyment from it.’
Sarah Bannister paid tribute to her cousin after the inquest, describing Ms Harding as a ‘pillar of the community’ and saying she will be ‘sorely missed’.
Friend and professional show judge Mandy Keen said Flumpy is now living in the Scottish Highlands.