THE mother of a motorcyclist killed after colliding with a New Forest pony has criticised police for reopening a busy dual|carriageway without first finding the stray animal.

Daniel Robins, pictured right, of Alumhurst Road, Bournemouth, was one of two riders who were in collision with the animal on the westbound A31 at Picket Post near Ringwood, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old was pronounced dead at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Southampton Coroner's Court was told.

The incident stranded|hundreds of drivers in their cars with no food or water or access to toilets.

Coroner Grahame Short ruled Mr Robins' death, after he struck the horse at about 6.15pm on January 22, had been accidental.

But speaking afterwards, mum Lorna Robins said the horse should have been found before the road was deemed safe to reopen.

She said: “You can't make assumptions like that, especially when life's in danger.

“I just feel that, given it could be a life and death situation, they should have erred on the side of caution.”

Police initially closed the entire A31 after the wild horse was spotted by PC Kevin Pearson. But after 40 minutes the horse vanished into undergrowth.

Meanwhile, with both lanes shut just after 5pm, rush hour traffic was building up as police officers struggled to locate the horse in the half-mile coned off area.

The court heard the outer lane of the dual carriageway was reopened while the inner road remained shut for half a mile for the search to continue.

PC Pearson said: “We had to make a decision to allow traffic to flow. We could not keep the road closed indefinitely.”

The inquest heard the horse had actually strayed a mile from the closed-off lane and was standing in the middle of the empty carriageway.

Meanwhile Mr Robins and the other rider, Ian Woolgar, 47, from Broadstone, had ridden to the front of the stopped traffic and when the outer lane reopened the two set off with Mr Robins ahead.

Mr Robins then hit the horse. This flung the animal into the path of Mr Woolgar, who also hit it.

But Mrs Robins asked the coroner why, if the animal was still on the loose police had not kept|traffic moving at a slower pace for a much longer stretch.

She said: “My son would be alive today if that had happened.”

No defects were found on the bikes and the weather and road conditions were good.

Tests found no drugs or alcohol in Mr Robins' blood and there was no indication of speeding.

A post mortem found he died from multiple injuries to the body and the head.

Mr Woolgar suffered broken bones and a damaged liver and kidney.

Police superintendent Lucy Hutson, who leads the Roads Policing Unit in Hampshire and Thames Valley, said: “This accident was the culmination of an extremely tragic and rare set of circumstances.

“Our officers acted on the basis of all the information that was available to them at that time, including speaking to motorists in the queuing traffic, and made a judgment call under these very difficult conditions.

“Our deepest sympathies remain with the family of Mr Robins.”