Two Household Cavalry horses 'in serious condition' amid fears animals may not survive after London rampage

25 April 2024, 08:14 | Updated: 25 April 2024, 10:59

Two Household Cavalry horses 'in serious condition' amid fears animals may not survive after London rampage
Two Household Cavalry horses 'in serious condition' amid fears animals may not survive after London rampage. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Two military horses are in a 'serious condition' after a rampage in central London when they were spooked by builders moving rubble.

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"All I can say is that five houses have been recovered to the army - three of those are fine, but unfortunately two of those are in quite a serious condition and we'll be continuing to monitor them," James Cartlidge, the defence procurement minister, told LBC.

Asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari if the two horses would "pull through", the defence procurement minister said he "wouldn't want to speculate" but said the animals were in a "serious condition".

"The important thing is no one was seriously injured," he added.

A statement today from the Army said: "Of the seven horses which were spooked, five tried to bolt and four, Vida, Trojan, Quaker and Tennyson, broke loose.

"Two of the injured horses were operated on last night, with one transferred to an equine hospital. All remaining horses are being closely observed.

"Our horses receive the highest standards of care, and those that did not undergo surgery are expected to return to duty in due course.

"We want to thank everyone who has shown such kindness and concern towards our soldiers and horses. We will provide more updates soon."

The updates come after a group of seven horses and six soldiers from the Household Cavalry were on an extended exercise in Belgravia on Wednesday when chaos erupted.

Four service personnel were thrown from their horses and five of the animals got loose, smashing into vehicles and causing a number of injuries in a six-mile rampage on Wednesday morning.

The animals were spooked when some concrete being moved by builders hit the ground.

Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge gives an update on the horses

Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024.
Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024. Picture: Alamy

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It comes as a petition to have the black and white horses seen running through the streets of London sent to a sanctuary has garnered nearly 7,000 signatures.

The petition states: “These magnificent animals were so frightened that they ran through the streets of London, injuring both people and themselves. It is clear that these horses do not belong in the army, and they deserve a better life.

“Let's ensure that the Royal Household Cavalry gives these horses the life they deserve."

One person fearful the horses might not survive posted online: “One simple question this morning - are all the horses involved yesterday going to be alright? Telling us they are receiving veterinary care is not an update on their condition, are they all OK?”

The British Army has since confirmed that the horses are safe and receiving veterinary care.

It said among those hurt were three soldiers who were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024.
Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024. Picture: Alamy

Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Matt Woodward said yesterday: "Every morning, the Household Cavalry Mounted regiment in London exercises some 150 horses in the parks and on the roads.

"This keeps them fit and helps inoculate them to city noise so they're less easily panicked on parades.

"This morning, however, a small group of horses were spooked by some construction works on a quiet side road in Belgravia where building materials were dropped from height right next to them. The ensuing shock caused all horses to bolt and unseated some riders.

"Our immediate priority was the safety and wellbeing of our soldiers, members of the public and our horses.

"We would like to express heartfelt gratitude for the swift responses of Met Police, City of London police, the Royal Mews, the London Ambulance Service, the London fire brigade and members of the public in reacting as quickly as they did. This enabled swift treatment of our soldiers and helped bring our injured horses to safety.

"Three of our soldiers have incurred injuries which are not deemed to be life-threatening and they're receiving treatment in hospital, while our horses have all returned to Hyde Park barracks and are undergoing veterinary care.

"Thankfully, considering the frequency of exercise and numbers of horses involved, this type of incident is extremely rare, we continue to strive to minimise the risk of this recurring. As ever, we are grateful for due consideration given by the members of the public to not making loud noises around our horses.

"We appreciate your concern, understanding and patience as we work through this matter."

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Earlier yesterday, ambulance crews treated four people in three separate incidents in Buckingham Palace Road, Belgrave Square, and at the junction of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street, in the space of just 10 minutes.

The drama began near Buckingham Palace Road where witnesses saw a serviceman thrown from his horse, and one of the loose animals crashed into a taxi waiting outside the Clermont Hotel, shattering the windows.

LBC spoke to the driver, Faraz, who said a white horse had collided with his Mercedes people carrier, leaving blood spattered down the side.

Another of the animals crashed into a tour bus, smashing the windscreen.

Two horses were then seen running in the road near Aldwych, one of which appeared to be covered in blood.

The horses were spotted across London
The horses were spotted at various locations across London. Picture: Google

'Just fell silent'

Jordan Pettitt, 26, who works for the PA news agency, said a white horse was "vividly" stained red with blood and he heard a black horse collide with a taxi.

He said: "The A4 at the Aldwych is usually pretty busy and it suddenly just fell silent.

"There was no traffic on the roads and all of a sudden we could hear some clattering of hooves just at the top of the road. Then coming down the top of the road were these two horses.

"They were coming down at quite a speed. They bolted southbound down the A4.

"Then as they came past me at some speed, they went straight down to the bottom of the road where it meets Fleet Street.

A black horse collides with a London Taxi after bolting down the A4 near Aldwych, central London. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024.
A black horse collides with a London Taxi after bolting down the A4 near Aldwych, central London. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024. Picture: Alamy

"The traffic lights were at red with a few buses and some taxis waiting there. These horses came hurtling down past the pedestrian crossing at that moment. Then the black horse collided with a black taxi.

"It was not to a great degree of power but it hit it strongly enough that we could hear it at the top of the road. You could hear the contact. Then it veered behind the taxi, went past the bus and headed eastbound on Fleet Street.

"The white horse that was with it looked like it doubled back on itself and then followed the black one as it went eastbound." The animals were later seen near the Limehouse Tunnel, before they were recaptured by City of London Police and taken away to be assessed by Army vets."

Roland, a worker for tour bus company Tootbus, described the chaotic scenes near Victoria.

"I saw horses come from the bus station in front of Victoria run around in a frenzy," he said.

"People were running around to avoid them - it was total mayhem."

A second tour bus worker, named only as Mr Mahmood, said: "One of the horses bumped into a bus, then everything got out of control.

"I saw two horses without riders gallop away. One rider managed to calm his horse down.

"An ambulance went to assist another rider who had been injured."

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