A four-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after he was kicked in the head by a horse in a playground.
Lewis Harrison was with a friend near his home in South Bank, Middlesbrough, when the untethered horse kicked out at him.
He had approached the small white horse and stood behind it. Lewis was rushed to hospital with blood streaming down his head having suffered a serious wound.
His mum Melissa, 28, said: "I was in the house when his brother Lee came in screaming 'mam, it's Lewis, his head is gashed open'. Then I saw him coming towards me, blood streaming down."
She said staff at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, told her Lewis was lucky to be alive.
She said: "They said that if he'd been struck an inch away from the spot he was kicked, or if he'd have been kicked straight in the eye socket, he'd have been killed.
"And if he'd been standing directly behind the horse, rather than slightly to the side, he wouldn't have stood a chance.
"I could have been planning my son's funeral today.
"Lewis knows not to go behind the back legs of a horse, but that's when a grown-up is there. But horses shouldn't be there on a playing field - it's as simple as that."
A spokesperson for Coast and Country Housing, which manage Redcar and Cleveland Council homes and land, said: "We deplore the irresponsible actions of horse owners who are allowing their animals to roam in public areas including those where children play.
"We take the issue of stray horses very seriously and have been working with fellow members of the local Joint Equine Group to tackle the problem.
"We would urge members of the public to report stray horses, and any information about their owners, to the police."
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said the force 'strongly supports' the Joint Equine Group initiative and remains 'committed to tackling the problem of tethered and untethered animals'.
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