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Riders call for caution by motorists after horse killed along Enfield road

  • Shelby Jaffe's saddle for her horse Waffles rests on a stand as Paige Lucas, 19, of Quechee rides past at Wild Rose Farm in Enfield, N.H., on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Shelby Jaffe, of Canaan, was riding Waffles back to the farm from Jake’s Market in Enfield on Saturday evening when they were hit by a pickup truck. Waffles died at the scene and Jaffe sustained minor injuries. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Shelby Jaffe, of Canaan, N.H., with her horse Waffles on her graduation day from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. (Courtesy Shelby Jaffe)

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    Cassie Medynski, owner of Wild Rose Farm, with her dog Beast lying nearby, teaches a riding lesson to Nanette Avril, in Enfield, N.H., on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. "It's still kind of a shock," said Medynski of the crash that killed a horse boarded at her farm on Saturday. "Sometimes people think it's funny to try to scare the horse," she said. "They don't get respect on the road." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Paige Lucas, 19, of Quechee, warms up her horse Buck in the ring before going to ride a trail at Wild Rose Farm, in Enfield, N.H., on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Lucas and Hannah Kierstead, not pictured, went to the scene of a crash that killed Waffles, the horse of fellow boarder Shelby Jaffe, of Canaan, on Shaker Hill Road on Saturday evening. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Shelby Jaffe, of Canaan, N.H., with her horse Waffles on her graduation day from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. (Courtesy Shelby Jaffe)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2021 7:38:07 AM
Modified: 10/19/2021 4:13:10 PM

ENFIELD — Community members are demanding motorists pay more attention on the roads after a horse was struck and killed Saturday evening in Enfield.

Canaan resident Shelby Jaffe said in a Facebook post that she was riding her horse, Waffles, on the shoulder of Shaker Hill Road on their way back from a local market to Wild Rose Farm, which is on the road and where the horse was stabled.

“On our way back (still in the light of day) we were struck by a large pickup truck that came onto the shoulder of the road. The driver hit a mailbox, and us so hard my boot came off. I was thrown from Waffles into a ditch, and my boy somehow managed not to land on me or kick me. He saved my life and protected me. Sadly, his selflessness led to his death,” Jaffe wrote in the post.

Jaffe said in a phone interview on Monday that the incident took place shortly after 6:11 p.m. Waffles had been living at Wild Rose Farm for almost two years and the pair were on Shaker Hill Road at least once a month. Last Wednesday, they had been on the road without any incident.

Jaffe, 25, was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and has a concussion, in addition to bruising and soreness.

“I remember being hit. I remember flying through the air and I remember, I believe, hitting the ground and when I came to, the driver of the truck as well as a good Samaritan were trying to keep Waffles calm and I apparently crawled and stood to run to him and fell a few times and I finally got to him,” Jaffe said. “When I got to him I put his head in my lap and he had very severe bleeding internally and some externally and he passed with his head in my lap at the scene.”

The Enfield Police Department is investigating the incident and said in a news release on Monday that police responded around 6:30 p.m. to a report of a motor vehicle crash involving a horse. The driver of the vehicle was not hurt, the release said. Police declined to release the driver’s name, citing the ongoing investigation.

“At this time the department does not believe speed or distracted driving were a factor and the crash is still under investigation,” the release stated.

Sunset was around 6:04 p.m. Saturday night.

Cassie Medynski, who owns Wild Rose Farm along with her husband, said that Jaffe and Waffles were wearing reflective gear and that they had ridden the route to and from Jake’s Market in the past without incident. Medynski did not witness the accident, but other people who board horses at Wild Rose went to the scene.

“There is enough room to be on the side of the road, which is where she was,” Medynski said. They have started a social media campaign titled “#justiceforWaffles” to raise awareness about the incident, and Jaffe’s post was widely shared on Facebook.

Waffles, who was 12 to 15 years old and a Haflinger cross breed, meant a lot to Jaffe. They had been together eight years. Waffles followed Jaffe to the University of New Hampshire from Connecticut, where she grew up.

“When I got him I had not planned to get him. I did not go looking at him. I was looking at fancy prospect horses to go to UNH with and to compete with,” Jaffe said. Then, the owners of the stable suggested she take a look at Waffles. “I walked in and I looked at him and I just offered him a cookie and he walked over and rested his head on my chest, he rested his head on my shoulder over my heart.”

“I felt like he chose me.”

A week later, Jaffe purchased Waffles and spent the next four years training him. He loved children and when the pair would walk along Shaker Hill Road, they’d often stop to greet residents.

“Waffles would always stop for kids because he loved to get attention and he loved to be able to give some love to kids,” Jaffe said. “He would always let them pet him.”

She was in the process of teaching her nephew to ride him. Waffles was very level-headed and didn’t scare easily, Jaffe said. They liked to ride trails in the early evening because Waffles enjoyed riding alongside deer.

“He was one of the major drivers that kept me going even when I wasn’t in a good place mental health-wise,” Jaffe said. “He was the best horse and best friend I ever could have asked for.”

The accident took place near St. Helena’s Catholic Church, said Heidi Jo Hauri-Gill, who until recently owned First Choice Riding Academy on Westcott Road in Enfield. The speed limit on that portion of Shaker Hill Road is 30 mph. Shaker Hill Road is a state road, said Director of Public Works Jim Taylor. That means that the state is responsible for setting and maintaining shoulders.

“According to our Bureau of Traffic, we generally do not maintain warning signs for home-based riders,” Eileen Meaney, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said via email. “They simply would not be present enough for drivers to correlate the sign with a need to change their behavior. We generally only place horse riding/crossing signs for commercial stables where there would be a significant volume of horse traffic.”

There are two horse crossing signs on Shaker Hill Road near Westcott Road.

According to New Hampshire state law, when approaching a horse on a roadway, motorists must drive “in such a manner as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of such horse, and to insure the safety and protection of any person riding or driving the same.”

“It’s so wonderfully clear in the law. We are riding our best friends and they are not always predictable,” Hauri-Gill said. “Even the best-behaved horse can be afraid, so go wide. Go to the other lane when it’s safe and if it’s not safe, wait a second.”

Area horseback riders said that they’ve observed drivers ignoring that statute. Medynski will only handwalk a horse on a roadway and not ride as a result.

“Some people respect horses, but a lot of people don’t,” Medynski said. Many drivers don’t give them the same wide berth that they do people on bicycles, she said. Medynski’s concerns are shared by Hauri-Gill, who has worried for decades about the potential for an incident like the one that took place Saturday.

“For many years I have predicted exactly this,” Hauri-Gill said.

Horseback riders do not ride on the roads just to ride, Hauri-Gill said. They are usually using them to get to another trail. Private property owners often do not allow horseback riders on their land and as a result they must use the roads.

“We just want to get to the snowmobile trails or the trails that are friendly for horses,” Hauri-Gill said. “Horses need hill work to be healthy and fit to the degree that we’re looking for.”

Hauri-Gill used to ride a horse on the roadways until one too many close calls with vehicles made her too nervous to continue.

“I stopped going because I don’t want to die,” Hauri-Gill said. “I don’t want my horse to die.”

Waffles was buried around 11 p.m. Saturday night at Wild Rose Farm, Medynski said. A group led by a member of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department used an excavator to transport Waffles and bury him.

“His paddock-mate was devastated. He was just calling all night,” Medynski said. “It’s just a huge hole in our barn family.”

Police are asking any eyewitnesses to the crash to contact them at 603-632-7501.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

Correction: There are two horse crossing signs on Shaker Hill Road in Enfield. A previous version of this article stated an incorrect number of signs on the road.




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