Horseshoes are traditionally meant to bring good luck – but try telling that to young showjumper Billy Luther.
The 13-year-old was watching his sporting heroes, the Whitaker family, in action when he was hit by a flying horseshoe.
Billy, of Hardie Drive, West Boldon, travelled to Arena UK in Grantham, Lincolnshire, with his family at the weekend to watch the famous showjumping family compete.
The Boldon School pupil secured a spot at the front of the arena, but was given a nasty surprise when a shoe from Tom Whitaker’s horse flew into the crowd and hit him in the chest – just as he had stood up to give his seat up to an elderly spectator.
Billy collapsed and an ambulance was called to check him over after he drifted in and out of consciousness, but his family admit it could have been a lot worse.
His dad William, 68, said: “The ambulance crew said he was really lucky because if it had hit him at an angle, it would have broken his shoulder.
“A big group of us went to the event and Billy wanted to sit right at the front where the horses land after a jump.
“But at one point he got up to let an older lady have his seat and the horseshoe hit him in the chest. The lady said she felt it go over her head and if Billy had have still been sat in his seat, it would have hit him in the face.
“He collapsed and lots of people rushed over to help him. He was falling in and out of consciousness and an ambulance came to check him over. He was fine but he just wanted to go home after that.”
The retired builder and decorator added: “Even though he’s only 13, he’s as strong as an ox – he was even back at school on Monday.
“On Sunday, he got a friend request on Facebook from Tom Whitaker and a message from him asking if he was OK.
“Billy was chuffed to bits that he’s now friends with one of the Whitakers on Facebook.”
Billy, who also lives with mum Alison, has been riding since he was five years old, when he was taken out by a family friend while on a visit to Kent.
He has three ponies, Siraya, Charlie and Jumping Jack Flash, and has won 132 first places with Jack alone.
He is coached by British showjumper Alison Lines and dreams of making a career in showjumping.
William, a dad-of-five, added: “Being in a competition like the one on Saturday is Billy’s dream. The prize money in a contest like that is about £60,000, so he wants to get there when he’s a bit older.
“He’s made of stern stuff and what happened on Saturday won’t put him off.”