Low Flying Aircraft Cause the Death of Three Horses
I once spent a wonderful morning riding in the mountains just outside Las Vegas. The striking Red Rock Canyon made for an impressive backdrop with its stunning deep red rock formations punctuated by huge cacti and Joshua trees. It was a relaxing setting but my guide warned me that the peaceful atmosphere could be shattered at any moment by a blast from a neighbouring quarry!
This was a slightly alarming prospect but my guide assured me that the horses were used to the noise and would not be troubled by it.
Roughly an hour into the ride there was an enormous explosion! It sounded like invading forces had dropped a bomb! I nearly fell out the side door in shock but my horse didn’t so much as twitch. You can acclimatise horses to most loud noises. However, if an unusual loud noise surprises them the outcome can be very different.
Equine Tragedy in Cornwall
Recently three horses at a yard in Cornwall died after low-flying military jets passed over. The yard in Bissoe is located just 15 miles from a naval base in Culdrose. The horses were used to the sound of aeroplanes and the air ambulance. On this occasion, the aircraft were flying much lower than usual.
Three Horses Injured
The owner of the yard is actually a knackerman and was forced to shoot two horses in the immediate aftermath of the jets’ fly past and then another the following day. Rider Claire Sexton, who keeps her horses at the yard, reported the incident to Horse and Hound magazine.
Two of the horses which had to be put down had suffered broken legs and one had stress related colic. It is believed the horses were injured after being spooked by the low flying jets which were seen just before the horses were discovered injured in three separate locations on the farm. Eye witnesses reported that the jets had been so low that it was possible to see the pilots’ faces.
Two Further Horses Injured in the Area
Ms Sexton publicised the incident on social media in an attempt to find out if any other horses in the area had been affected. It turned out that two more horses had been injured; a mare who was found lame and a horse which sustained facial injuries as the result of a fall.
Things could have been even worse if anyone had been riding out on the roads when the planes flew over. The jets were abnormally low, fast and noisy. Further investigation revealed that the aircraft concerned did not belong to RNAS Culdrose but were US planes from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. That is no consolation but does at least make a repeat performance less likely.
Horse and Hound have approached RAF Lakenheath for comment and have promised to report any explanation that they receive.