A woman involved in a serious crash on the A6 said her beloved horse Bart ‘saved her life’ following a collision with a car which resulted in the animal being put down.
Twenty-year-old Francesca Kennedy was on a hack with her friend and fellow rider, Hannah Farrell, when they were involved in a collision with a vehicle near Clifton last week.
Miss Kennedy said: “Bart meant everything to me, he really was my best friend. I could tell him anything and I called him my real-life unicorn.”
The avid rider, who is originally from Lancashire, said she knew instantly that her horse was injured.
Miss Kennedy said: “I had rolled over the bonnet and was on the floor and as I turned over, I could see he was bleeding.
“He was wailing and screaming and as I tried to stand up I realised my leg was numb, then the pain set in so I couldn’t get to him.”
Two years ago, Miss Kennedy acquired the 11-year-old Irish sports horse and since that day, the pair had been inseparable.
Miss Kennedy, who is a carer, said: “I moved to Cumbria to be beside Bart when I first got him, and I have seen him twice a day since. If we weren’t out riding, he was being pampered. He lived like royalty.
“When a rider chooses a horse, you build a bond like no other and it was almost like we had our own language.”
Within 20 minutes of the incident happening, both the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and a specialist vet team were by the sides of the pair alongside ambulance service teams.
Miss Kennedy said: “The vets put Bart under heavy sedation and took him to a field nearby to give him the best chance.
“Everyone was there to make him comfortable, but he just couldn’t get back up, so the vet decided he had to be put down.
“As I was being airlifted, I actually flew over the field he was lying in and now I keep thinking if I had have been down there to comfort him things would have been different.”
While out on the hack on the day of the accident, Miss Kennedy and friend Hannah recall saying to one another that they would avoid the backroads and just walk their horses through the village instead.
She said: “We were passing the George and Dragon pub and I saw this look on Hannah’s face and she was screaming and shouting and then I was hit. It happened so fast.
“I remember the GNAAS doctor, Theo Weston, saying to me ‘it’s going to be very loud in the aircraft, but I will communicate with you using hand signals all the way’ and he did every two minutes. He was amazing.”
Miss Kennedy was flown to James Cook University Hospital as it was believed she could have a spinal injury. Luckily, she only suffered two torn ligaments, a torn tendon and nerve damage.
She added: “Bart saved my life – he was so special, and I am so glad I got to say goodnight to him the day after I was released from hospital.”
A Facebook fundraiser set up by Miss Kennedy to help GNAAS has raised £2,500 so far.
GNAAS relies on donations to survive.
Visit www.gnaas.com or call 01768 899 150 to support the charity, which operates from Langwathby, near Penrith.
To donate to Bart’s Legacy appeal, visit https://gofund.me/b4dc60d3