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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Everyday stable chore turned to near-death nightmare for Cumbrian horse trainer

A horse breeder and trainer is lucky to be alive after a freak accident in which a stallion stamped on her chest four times.

 Jane Woolley photo
Jane Woolley with another horse Warda Peternella

Jane Woolley was hanging up a haynet in a stable where four-year-old Orions was eating. As she worked, she heard a snap beneath her feet and found herself falling backwards towards the floor.

It frightened the horse, which ran around the stable in a panic.

In its confusion the stallion stamped on Jane’s chest four times with his back legs.

“I just thought this horse is going to kill me, I need to get out of here,” said Jane, who runs the Littletree Fell Pony Stud in Great Asby, near Appleby.

In great pain, and summoning all the strength she could, the 48-year-old made her way out of the stable and cried out for help from her husband Nick and elder daughter Emma.

They rushed to help her and called 999. A helicopter from the North West Air Ambulance service was scrambled and Jane was airlifted to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough on Saturday, February 2.

When she arrived, she found out the full extent of the injuries she had suffered.

Her left lung had collapsed, and her right lung had partially collapsed. But by far the biggest worry was that her aorta – the largest artery in the body – was torn.

Normally when this happens to someone the results are fatal within minutes.

Jane though had survived thanks to a blood clot.

Now she faced another agonising problem. Leaving it to heal was not an option but surgery to repair it could paralyse her.

She told doctors: “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

However, it was carried out successfully and, after almost a week in hospital, Jane was then able to return home to begin the long road to recovery.

She is extremely grateful to have survived the ordeal, and to everyone from the emergency services who helped her.

“I have been very, very lucky,” she said. “They were all absolutely fantastic, everybody in the whole chain. All the time, on the phone (to 999) and in the air ambulance, I couldn’t have been in better hands.”

“I am so lucky that they were the people who came to my rescue,” she added.

Her recovery will take a long time. She explained that it could take three months “to feel a bit better”.

“It’s going to be a long time before I feel anything like myself and can do things I enjoy, or lift anything,” she said.

Jane is determined to stay involved with her stud farm but thinks she will now move to a more hands-off role as a result of the accident.

Emma, 25, who has a 20-year-old sister, Jessica, recalled the moment she found out about the accident.

She said: “I was putting my boots on in the house and the I heard her screaming. It wasn’t a normal scream, it was saying there’s something seriously wrong.”

She went outside to find her mum clasped in her dad’s arms outside the stable door, with him screaming to her to call an ambulance.

Emma said the family was now hoping to hold a fundraising event in support of the North West Air Ambulance, which operates the helicopter that transported her to Middlesbrough.

“There is a big risk of injury with horses but usually that’s with riding or training them, not with routine things such as hanging up haynets,” she added.

Emma also said that the stable would not be moving Orions as a result of the accident.

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