POLICE are hunting a man after a young woman was pulled off her horse and assaulted yesterday evening (Monday September 14)close to the forest.

The woman, aged 25, was left shaken but uninjured following the attack, which took place shortly before 6pm, close to the corner of Bury Road, Sewardstonebury.

The rider was making her way up the road when a man approached her and pulled her from the horse.

She fell but received no injuries.

The horse then turned its attention to the man and began repeatedly kicking him to the ground.

The rider quickly remounted and galloped back to her stable yard.

The badly shaken woman was visited by Epping Forest Keepers who discovered that a man matching the description had been seen hanging around the area by other riders -although it is not known if it is the same man.

He is described as white, in his thirties, possibly of Eastern European origin, 6ft, heavy build, with mousey brown hair, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

If anyone has any information about this incident please call police at Loughton on 0300 333 4444.

Chairman of the Epping Forest Riders association Adrian Liddle said the plans to disband the Horse mounted Epping Forest Patrol could hamper attempts to stop these kinds of attacks.

He said: "Thankfully this type of event only occurs infrequently, the last time was about eight years ago.

"Riders do though, from time to time, get pestered by 'flashers' but why horse riders should be singled out is not known.

"The Superintendent of Epping Forest's plans to increase the number of Keepers in the Forest is to be applauded and will help ensure that this sort of incident remains very uncommon.

"However, the Keeper who spent two hours searching the area where the attack took place had, until recently, been a member of the now disbanded Mounted section - how much larger an area would she have been able to search if she had been on horse back?"

Fellow rider Hayley Rhodes said she felt the forest was no longer safe for women.

She said: "It is a real worry, when I was riding this morning I saw a man sitting in the forest and it frightened the life out of me, I don't think he was doing anything wrong but after Monday we're all frightened.

"Since they shut down the mounted patrols we see less and less officers, they seem to spend their entire time up at the tea hut drinking cups of tea or sitting in their Landrovers, which can't even get as far into the forest as someone on horseback can.

"We used to see them every day, we were on first name terms and they did make you feel safer, now there's just no-one.

"I'm sure it's a money saving thing, but what price can you put on safety?"

Miss Fiona Daniels, who has been calling for tighter safety measures since she was flashed by a man back in March said something must be done.

She said: "From the description that was given it sounds like it could be the same man that attacked me and also two other women shortly before, everything in the description matches.

"If that is the case then the police and the corporation need to do more to stop him before he attacks again.

"Why aren't Sapphire (the Metropolitan rape and sexual assault team) involved in this yet? Also if he was kicked by a horse, I sincerely hope they're checking every hospital for him.

"I think it's going to take a rape or a murder before anything will be done, and that is disgusting.

"The patrols at the moment consist of unfit old men who spend their entire time at the High Beech tea hut drinking tea and doing nothing. They are completely ineffective.

Miss Daniels, a former mounted police officer added: "I know that horses are much more effective for chasing people than just sitting in your 4x4 all day. It's a complete joke."

But a City of London Spokesperson insisted that there were more officers patrolling than ever before, saying: "The Forest Keeper service has been increased from eight staff members to twelve, to provide increased foot and mountain bike patrols across Epping Forest 365 days a year.

"Duty Managers are on-call every night to deal with emergency matters out-of-hours."