A horse trainer who was attacked by a dog while out riding in remote countryside – triggering a terrifying asthma attack – used a tracking app to pinpoint her whereabouts to emergency services.
When a loose border collie dog appeared from nowhere and started gnashing at the legs of the horse she was training, Ashleigh Compton, 27, swiftly dismounted in case the animal was spooked.
But the dog then turned on her – biting and scratching her as she tried to hold her nerve and lead Sparks, the horse, to safety.
Recalling the attack last month, Ashleigh, of Radstock, Somerset, said: “I was quite badly hurt from the dog after it started biting and scratching at me.
“My only option was to grab Sparks and make a run for it – hoping the dog wouldn’t chase us.
“Luckily, it worked, but the running and panic set off my asthma.”
She added: “I always carry my inhaler with me, but even that didn’t work and by the time I got back to the stable yard, I was really struggling to breathe.
“The yard is in the middle of nowhere. No one would find it unless they already knew it was there. I’m very grateful that I had the what3words app on my phone and was able to use it so paramedics could fine me.”
The what3words app can be used to inform emergency services exactly where a caller is in a crisis, as every three-metre square has been given a unique combination of three words, which the app relays.
Ashleigh – an enthusiastic equestrian since she was 10 – had, luckily, downloaded it after seeing it advertised.
She said: “I had downloaded it a really long time ago after seeing it advertised online and I don’t think I ever even opened it.
“I think I had seen something about it where other horse riders were saying it was something you should have if you go out riding alone, but I had never given it another thought until that day in September.”
Mad about all things equestrian, Ashleigh, who had her first horse at the age of 12, had already been having lessons for two years and her parents could see she was serious when she said she wanted to work with the animals one day.
Training and exercising them daily, she was out with a client’s horse when she was attacked by the rogue dog.
She said: “I saw this brown and white collie dog making a beeline for us and all I could think was, ‘This isn’t my horse.’”
She added: “I didn’t want to send the horse back to his owners after our training session covered in injuries and bite marks.
“We’d already been out for nearly an hour and were just about to head back home when the dog appeared on the path and started snapping at Sparks’ ankles.”
And when Ashleigh dismounted to stop Sparks from being spooked, she soon found herself in the angry dog’s firing line.
She said: “I thought the owner would be just around the corner, but no one came to help.
“He started biting viciously at my legs and snapping at my arms.
“I was shouting and swearing, trying to get the dog away from me.”
She added: “Eventually, I realised that I would just have to run, so I grabbed hold of Sparks’ reins and ran with him down the lane.”
The loose dog chased them 100ft along the path before turning back, which was when Ashleigh realised she could not catch her breath.
She said: “I struggle with asthma and knew I was having an attack, so I used my inhaler as we walked back to the yard, but by the time we got there I still wasn’t right.”
She added: “I put Sparks back in his stable, but I couldn’t get control of my asthma, so I rang for an ambulance and it was at that point that I realised I didn’t know exactly where I was.”
Working at a horse yard in the middle of the Somerset countryside, Ashleigh knew her location would be nearly impossible for paramedics to find.
She said: “I wasn’t breathing properly and I was really starting to panic.”
She added: “The 999 operator couldn’t figure out where I was and I could barely speak through my asthma attack.
“When the penny dropped that I had the app, I read out the three words to him and he told me that he knew exactly where I was and that he was organising for paramedics to get there.”
While waiting for the ambulance, Ashleigh was approached by a passer-by who happened to be a doctor, so they cancelled the 999 call and he took her to Royal United Hospital in Bath, Somerset, where medics checked her over.
She said: “My legs were really bruised and sore. I didn’t need any stitches, but I did have to get a tetanus shot.
“Afterwards, I recovered at home, but I’ve already been out riding again. You have to keep going when something like this happens, so as not to lose your confidence.”
Ashleigh is still looking for the dog and its owner, but no one has yet come forward.
She said: “I doubt I’ll ever find them now.
“I’ve got some pretty impressive scars on my legs, but other than that, luckily I’m fine.
“I was more worried about Sparks. I thought he was going to be awful after the event, but we’ve seen a couple of dogs on our walks since and he’s been fine.”
She added: “My confidence took a little knock but I’m starting to get more comfortable with going out riding on my own again now.”
But Ashleigh hopes that fellow equestrians are aware of the app, which saved her from what could have become an incredibly serious incident.
She said: “What3words is definitely an essential app for horse-riders to have on their phone.
“Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but in the unfortunate event that you do, you’ll be glad you had it downloaded on your phone. I certainly am.”