Kerri-Lee McKenzie was bleeding from a stab wound to her chest and her assailant was telling her he was going to rape her when a horse named Domino, and his stable companion, Archie, came galloping to her rescue.
The astonishing incident took place at Toti Ranch, in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban.
Domino’s owner does not live in Durban and Kerri-Lee is his regular rider.
While McKenzie, 25, is still recovering from her injuries, her mother, Serena Mckenzie, said the attack last week could have had a far worse ending had it not been for the two heroic horses.
“Kerri-Lee had taken the horses down to the paddock to graze when she spotted some rubbish. She was afraid that the horses might try to eat it, so she went to pick it up. As she was doing that, this man came up from behind, grabbed her and put a knife to her neck,” said McKenzie.
According to her mother, Kerri-Lee fought back, head-butting her attacker, as well as trying to stomp on his feet with her gumboots.
“He was trying to strangle her and as she fought back, he stabbed her in the chest. He also told her he wanted to rape her,” said McKenzie.
At that moment, Domino charged up and the attacker took fright and fled.
Another rider, who was in a higher paddock, said she saw Kerri-Lee crawling out of the bushes and thought she was playing with the horses.
But Domino was in fact chasing the panicked assailant across the paddock.
“Then Archie went and stood over Kerri-Lee while she lay on the ground. It was as if he was protecting her.
“Kerri-Lee was rushed to hospital. Fortunately the knife had not hit any major vessels or organs, but she had to have a few stitches,” said McKenzie.
The police dog unit were called to the scene and a tracker dog followed the man’s scent to a nearby township, but the suspect had disappeared.
Local horse behaviourist Glynn Redgrave described the incident as “amazing” but said horses can form an incredible bond with their rider, owner or groom.
“Horses are masters of body language and a horse can tell if you are confident, assertive or nervous. You are dealing with an active, intelligent animal who is also a teacher of unconditional love. A horse could definitely sense if someone was being attacked. This horse must have an phenomenal bond with the rider,” said Redgrave.
Another KZN horse behaviourist, Patsy Divine, who specialises in equine facilitated therapy (EFT) and equine facilitated learning (EFL), said it was “absolutely feasible” that the horses had helped with intention and not by chance.
“It’s inherent in horses to read energy and if there was bad energy in that situation, those horses knew it and would have recognised that she was in a bad place.
“They are powerful, gentle animals and would definitely sense distress. And if I were the attacker, I would definitely run from an attacking horse,” said Divine. - The Independent on Saturday