The owner of a Westbury horseriding centre has said she fears a rider will be seriously injured or even killed by bikers on a bridleway.

Lesley Awdry, owner of the White Horse Equestrian Centre in Newtown, gave her warning after an 11-year-old girl was thrown from a pony startled by a passing quad bike on September 30.

The girl suffered minor injuries, but the biker did not stop. Later that day, a pair of dog walkers on the same route were forced into brambles, also by a quad bike.

Mrs Awdry said quad bikers and motorcyclists had been a problem in the area since she started the centre 20 years ago.

“It is a huge problem and has been going on a long time. This is only the latest incident of a person being thrown,” she said.

“The little girl was really traumatised. Some passing walkers had to help calm her down as her fellow riders were trying to keep her pony under control.

“Luckily, she wasn’t badly injured, but you don’t have to be racing along to hurt yourself falling from a horse. “You can come off it standing, land badly and break your neck.

“Also, the cliff next to the bridleway is very steep there. If you fell off the wrong way, it is a long way down.”

She said the centre had tried putting gates up on the bridleway in the past, but the idea had fallen foul of local farmers and the National Trust.

“They use the farmers’ fields to get through from Bratton Road to the Ridgeway and if you try and stop them they just drive at you, so you have to get out of the way,” she added.

“They aren’t just youngsters –there are dads with their children. I stopped one once and he said they can’t take the road as they aren’t road legal.”

PC Darren Foulger, the Westbury rural beat manager, said illegal use of quad bikes and motorbikes has also been reported on other bridleways and footpaths and in farmers’ fields.

He said: “They are even riding within the red flag zone on Salisbury Plain, which doesn’t seem wise.

“I will be doing more patrols with PCSO Luke Breedt and we are working with Wiltshire Council on this.

“People caught driving quad bikes along bridleways and footpaths can expect to be referred to court, or prosecuted if they are driving dangerously or unlicensed.

“These bikes can be road legal and driven on highways and byways. We want everyone to enjoy this area, but to do it legally and safely.”