You may have seen the videos in the news of the grey horse galloping around London, it’s chest covered in blood, or the dark horse run into the side of a cab.

It sounds like some innocent by-standers have been injured too.

It’s not a great picture and less than ideal outcomes for some.

Thankfully incidents like this are pretty rare.

Horses are prey animals and so are ALWAYS on alert for predators waiting to attack.

Their natural environment is dry grassy plains, living in herds– somewhat different to the mainly concrete jungle of London complete with it’s busy roads and hectic pace of life.

To expect horses to be safe in such a foreign and very scary environment takes years of de-sensitisation with humans who truly understand the horses’ point of view, which generally comes from a lifetime’s experience.

Their natural reaction to something scarey is to run – they’re evolved over millions of years to run- and they do it well!

And it’s like a switch in their heads – they just go – and keep going , I guess until they’re exhausted or they’re caught/injured.

In that panic there’s no reasoning with them. A rider has no control. No amount of tack, pulling on the reins will stop them. At this point you’re looking for a bale out point.

To stay on a horse who is just wanting to get away from a trigger takes guts and great stablility. There are a couple of old horse rider’s sayings that go something like

“you can’t beat hours in the saddle”

“it’s great when everything’s going smoothly but it’s how you cope when things aren’t going so well that can save you”

And it’s very true – learning to move with the horse, anticipating what they’ll do in various situations, understanding their nature and needs and how do deal with stuff when things go wrong!

One theory is that the horses were ‘spooked’ by a concrete mixer  – they’re loud, large and there are usually high-viz’d bodies moving around the mixer, probably in and out of sight. Pretty scary if you’re a horse.

I think if just one horse had bolted it wouldn’t have gone to far from the rest – there are safety in numbers. However it sounds like 3 bolted, 2 ‘unseating’ their riders and one rider remained onboard. This little group would want to stick together and I think this is why they travelled 5 miles before being caught.

I hope all animals and humans involved make a full recovery  though I’m not sure the horses involved will recover sufficiently emotionally to return to work in London.

Thankfully the most my ponies have to deal with is the horse friendly farmer next door occasionally doing one of his farming jobs with a tractor – My ponies are generally very chilled and used to farm machinery bless them. I AM very aware though that they are still equines with the same innate fears and reactions as bigger equines. If I see something in the environment that I think might worry them I’ll usually stop, assess how the pony is feeling and sometimes ask a parent to lift the child off the pony if they’re riding , or ask children to step away if they’re grooming. Usually the ponies will have a look and decide it’s nothing to worry about and we carry on.

Once I had two ponies on duty and Demi, one of my very experienced older ponies suddenly became very worried about something he could see – he stuck his head in the air like a giraffe and was breathing quite heavily and was fixated on something (I thought) was in the distance– I was rather perplexed. I thought maybe he’d seen some golfers walking across the golf course a couple of fields away.

I then realised that the children had just swapped ponies – and that the child who HAD been riding Demi was now on the other pony  ….

and was wearing a sparkly unicorn hat cover!

SO scarey!

I gave him a minute or two to figure it out then we carried on!

Household cavalry horses ditch riders and gallop around London- why and how safe is your child at Cheshire Pony Parties?