NEW Years Eve, traditionally a joyful time spent welcoming in the New Year, quickly turned to a nightmare for a Londonderry family when careless actions of surrounding neighbours led to the horrific injury of their foal.
Meet Lily, once an energetic, curious and kind four month-old purebred Arabian filly, who became an example of the danger of illegal, backyard fireworks.
Given no warning of the events that were to unfold on Whitegates Road on December 31, trouble began at 9.30pm.
‘‘We were alarmed when a big bang rocked our house and three of us flew outside to find a couple of neighbours letting off fireworks,’’ Mrs Geyteman said.
Attempts to call out to stop them failed.
‘‘The other neighbours close to Londonderry Road added to the problem, but they were worse at midnight,’’ she said.
While many families were gathering around their television sets watching the Sydney fireworks, Mrs Geyteman and husband Anthony were frantically moving through their dark property trying to calm their horses.
‘‘While on the phone to 000 I was trying to stop them from running through steel fences, while my husband was attending the ponies, mares and foals at the back of the property, which we thought was safe chicken mesh — brand new fencing.’’
Mrs Geyteman also described the terror of hearing the twang of fencing snapping, and not knowing what damage had been done.
‘‘My frantic attempts to calm them down and speak on the phone must have sounded horrendous to the operator as we watched the offending neighbours light firework after firework,’’ she said. ‘‘We could see them being lit from our horse yards.’’
While waiting for the police to arrive, the family continued to try and calm the horses, which Mrs Geyteman said were shaking and dripping in sweat.
‘‘We were lucky enough to only have one injured animal — Lilly.’’
Since the incident, where Lilly suffered a haematoma, Mrs Geyteman said she isn’t the same.
‘‘Lilly used to be a friendly little foal that would be the first to come up and greet you, but the effects of the fireworks from inconsiderate and ignorant people have resulted in a fearful foal that won’t come near us as we have to treat her several times daily.’’
With the Hawkesbury a horse populated area, Mrs Geyteman hoped other locals would learn from their experience.
‘‘I am sure we are all aware of the dangers of fireworks and why they are illegal in the first place,’’ she said.
‘‘This is our third year here now and we have never had this problem before. A courtesy note in our letterbox would have sufficed so we could have locked the horses in boxes and they would have been safe.’’
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