The incident involving spooked Cavalry Horses running loose through London yesterday (24 April) has ignited a debate surrounding whether horses should be used by the forces in the capital, and could lead to questions about the general safety of hacking a horse on the road.

Two of the most severely injured Cavalry Horses were operated on last night and remain in a serious condition, and yesterday’s events have sparked discussions across the media around the place of equines in today’s society.

Former Met Police Chief Superintendent Parm Sandhu spoke on Good Morning Britain today (25 April) about the place of horses in the forces.

“The UK is known for its military, it is known for their horses, and it’s known for the police having horses. And also, operationally, horses are such an effective resource,” she said.

“When you’re at football, when you’re at protests or disorder, the horses can go into areas where police officers would get hurt and they can’t get easy access. You can’t use cars instead of horses because there are some places where you just can’t get vehicles, so operationally they’re a necessary resource.

“The UK is known for its ceremony, it’s known for the funerals, the coronation. There’s various issues across the country where horses are used and tourists flock to the country for that.”

An ‘extremely rare’ incident

When the Army issued an update on the Household Cavalry incident yesterday, they spoke of the rarity of such an occurrence.

“Every morning the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in London exercises some 150 horses in the parks and on the roads,” the spokesman said. “This keeps them fit and helps inoculate them to city noise so they’re less easily panicked on parades.”

He explained that when the horses were spooked yesterday, building materials had been “dropped from height right next to them” and the “ensuing shock” caused all horses to bolt.

He went on to explain how unusual such an occurrence was.

“Thankfully, considering the frequency of exercise and numbers of horses involved, this type of incident is extremely rare and we continue to strive to minimise the risk of this recurring,” he added.

“As ever, we are grateful for the due consideration given by members of the public to not making loud noises around our horses.”

‘An incredible relationship’

Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, shared his thoughts about yesterday’s events.

“Yesterday’s incident was hugely distressing for the horses, soldiers and members of the public involved and we wish those who were injured a speedy recovery,” he told Your Horse. “Incidents like this are thankfully extremely rare, given the number of military and other horses that exercise in London and other urban environments every day. I am sure that there will be an investigation into what happened so that any lessons can be learned.

“World Horse Welfare recognises the incredible relationship between horses and humans and we support the ethical involvement of horses in working roles as long as their welfare is prioritised. Horses have proven they can work in a wide variety of settings, including in the urban environment, and we just need to ensure that our training practices continually evolve as our understanding of how horses learn evolves.”

The British Horse Society (BHS) also expressed their well wishes for those involved.

“We are sorry to hear about the incident that took place in London yesterday and our thoughts are with all those involved,” a BHS spokesperson told Your Horse. “The BHS cannot comment any further on this at this time, as it would be unwise to prejudge any investigation which is ongoing.”

Lead image by Shutterstock

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