The Danger of Drones
Drones are becoming increasingly popular. Sales of the unmanned flying vehicles are rising every year and the drones are becoming ever more affordable. But drones can be dangerous and, as they become more common sights, the number of unfortunate incidents involving the vehicles will inevitably rise. There have already been a number of reports regarding drones spooking horses.
Drone Spooks Two Horses
A couple recently spoke to Horse and Hound about an incident involving a drone. Joanna and Simon Jeans had been riding in the Mendip Hills, Somerset, when they saw that a car had parked behind their trailer. They were untacking their horses when there was a strange noise just 10 feet away. Both horses spooked and the couple did well to hold on to them.
They soon realised that the gentlemen in the next car was flying a drone. They spoke to him but the drone operator didn’t seem in any way concerned about the trouble that he could have caused. Mr and Mrs Jeans felt that the owner of the drone had looked a little sheepish when he had started flying his vehicle. It was as if he knew that he was doing the wrong thing. Not that this stopped him!
Drones at the Races
The use of drones has been suspended at racecourses following an incident involving Frankie Dettori. He fell before a maiden race at Newmarket in 2016 when a drone spooked the filly he was riding which was blinkered at the time. The horse was disturbed by the strange noise overhead and panicked. The drone was being flown within the existing rules but clearly these were not sufficient to prevent dangerous situations arising.
New Laws Imminent
With fears over the inappropriate use of drones rising, the Government is set to launch a crackdown on the vehicles. By spring 2018, it could be necessary for owners to sit a test similar to the driving theory test, in order to be permitted to fly a drone.
The Drone (Regulation) Bill will also be published. This will allow police to order operators to ground their devices where necessary. Owners of drones over a certain weight will be required to register their devices. There could also be a ban on drones flying near airports. Further new laws are likely in the future as greater use of drones reveals yet more potential hazards.
When Drones are a Good Thing
Drones aren’t always bad news for horses. Following the terrible wildfires in California recently, drones have been used to locate missing horses. Several horses were reported missing from a training facility but following possible sightings, drones were deployed to seek out the animals. During this particular incident, 39 horses were found to be missing. 46 had been confirmed killed in the fire.
It is clear that drones can represent a danger to horses and riders. It is essential that those who fly the vehicles act responsibly but there will always be people who behave stupidly. Whilst it would be easy to wish that all drones were banned, they can be hugely useful when horses are lost and camera drones produce amazing footage of horses in action which it would be a shame to lose.
What do you think about drones?