CANTON — The mother of a 13-year-old girl who lost her horse in an accident last month is asking drivers to be cautious on back-country roads.
Sheila Gilson of Litchfield said the accident during a Maine Trail Riders Association outing May 7 on Meadowview Road in Canton shouldn't have happened.
The Maine Trail Riders, a horseback riding club based in Litchfield, scheduled a four-hour ride May 7 on the Jay railroad bed. Riders were warned on the MTRA Facebook page that the path is a multiuse trail, meaning there was a good chance of meeting bikes and four-wheelers.
The day before the ride, another message was posted saying that the Jay railroad bed trail was closed, so the ride was relocated to Canton. There, riders would follow a railroad bed to Meadowview Road, which is a town dirt road.
Gilson said she was riding her daughter Torrie's 20-year-old pony Cosmo, a black Tennessee Walker-Morgan cross they got three years ago.
Torrie, who is in 4-H and had raced Cosmo the week before, was riding her mother's horse.
On the trail ride for an hour and a half, Sheila Gilson said she and her daughter headed for the Canton snowmobile clubhouse parking lot beside Route 140.
“It had started raining and there was lightning and thunder and I was behind four young girls,” Sheila Gilson said.
She saw a green truck coming along and the driver showed no signs of slowing down. Gilson and the five girls got their horses over to the side as far as they could.
Then it began to hail, making an already bad situation worse for controlling the horses.
“The driver in the green truck went by right when it started hailing and Cosmo swung his butt out,” she said. “I'm not sure if we hit (the truck) or he hit us, but it shattered Cosmo's leg.”
She said the driver of the truck should have slowed down considerably on seeing horses ahead. After the accident, the man stopped.
“The guy got out and he yelled at me for hitting his truck, but then he saw my daughter crying for Cosmo and he softened up,” she said.
Gilson said she called for help from police and a Maine State Police trooper responded, “but he was mainly concerned that the injured horse not block traffic.”
It took a while for Gilson and other trail riders to get Cosmo into a horse trailer, after which, he was taken to a veterinarian and had to be put down.
Both the accident and vet's action traumatized her daughter, Gilson said, which is why she has been trying to alert drivers that they need to be more cautious around horses being ridden along trails and back roads.
“Just because you have a halter on a horse and you're riding a horse doesn't mean you have control of the horse,” Gilson said.
“You don't have complete control and people have to be really aware of the unpredictability of horses.”
"You can't go (in a truck or car) within 12 to 14 inches of a horse,” she said.
Trudy Bickford, president of the MTRA, agreed Friday by email.
“I was at that ride,” she said. “It was very tragic. This was the first tragedy of this kind for our club during an organized ride.”
“Riding on the road is always risky though because of the folks that are impatient and those that have no common sense,” Bickford said.