Panicked horses running through London streets speaks of wider animal abuse

Posted on the 25th April 2024

Yesterday, five horses from the Household Cavalry became spooked during training, throwing off their riders and racing terrified through central London. One of the horses was seen to be covered in blood as they stampeded the city, colliding with vehicles and causing disruption. Three of the horses are reported to be fine, with two in a serious condition, after being caught five miles from where they bolted. Four people have been taken to hospital.

The scenes were deeply upsetting and have sparked wider discussion regarding whether the military should still be using horses for ceremonial purposes at all. This incident comes on the back of horses bolting loose at William and Kate’s wedding, a horse breaking loose at the Queen’s funeral, and the death of a horse after being run over by a ceremonial gun carriage in London’s Hyde Park.  So why, in 2024, are sensitive animals still being forced to endure gruelling – and unnecessary – work in city centres?

Horses are still forced to pull carriages in cities such as New York, despite years of campaigning to stop this abuse. There have been countless collisions on the roads, causing harm both to humans and the horses, not to mention the daily suffering the horses must endure. You can read more about the case against horse-drawn vehicles here.

In 2011, Oxford City Council voted against plans to introduce horse-drawn carriages in the city centre. In 2012, plans to introduce horse-drawn carriage rides in Eastbourne were abandoned due to the major animal welfare concerns. In 2017, the racing industry had the outlandish idea to race horses on Oxford Street in central London – but this was also abandoned due to the grave concerns for horse and human safety. Animal Aid campaigned to block all three of these initiatives.

Just like horse-drawn carriages for public amusement, the use of horses by the Household Cavalry is entirely unnecessary. Their role is ceremonial; they are used for spectacle and show. The use of animals for entertainment – which, at its core, is what the Household Cavalry horses are used for – is unacceptable. Horses are highly sensitive, and we see time and time again the adverse impact that city centre stresses have on their physical and mental wellbeing.

In 2024, we can do so much better than this. Horses should be running freely in fields, not racing scared and drenched in blood across overcrowded concrete.

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