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The Dangers of Helium Balloons



It is impossible to fully protect your horses from every possible hazard, even if your property is in a remote area. People love helium balloons at parties and other events. However, they can fly many miles if they are released. The balloons are great fun but can scare animals or be eaten by them when they land.



Equine Tragedy


Recently, the owner of a three-year-old horse was devastated when the animal died in agony following an encounter with a stray helium balloon. Espoiro was bred for show jumping and was due to be backed this year. The horse swallowed the string of the balloon and then panicked, causing it to charge through two gates. The horse suffered two broken legs and a broken neck.

Spooked by a Balloon


Owner and breeder Jennifer Birtwistle of Harrogate was alerted to the disaster by a taxi driver who had seen the horse crashing around the field. Espoiro was discovered lying in the driveway tangled up in the fabric of the gate. The horse was terrified and in complete agony.

Mrs Birtwistle checks the field regularly for hazards including litter. She had actually been worried about helium balloons for years as they had been landing with some regularity. However, she had not anticipated such a terrible tragedy unfolding. The horse had clearly nibbled at the balloon’s string whilst the balloon was still attached. The balloon had then spooked the horse and with the string stuck in her throat, she could not escape from the cause of her panic.

What Goes Up Must Come Down


Mrs Birtwistle is now calling for people to stop letting off helium balloons as they have no control over where they land. The balloons simply litter the landscape and cause a hazard to animals. She understands that the people who enjoy the balloons are not being malicious but believes that they simply do not understand the consequences of what they are doing. What goes up must come down somewhere.

Not only could the balloons end up in the fields but they could also get caught in bushes and trees in the area. Creating a unexpected obstacle for your horse to deal with when you are riding out. It can be quite a challenge for a horse to face a shiny balloon on a ride. I recently pulled a giant gold number 2 deflated balloon out of the bush on the lane down to the yard. So if you spot them - please remove them and dispose of them properly. Keep the horses, riders and countryside happy.

Have you experienced any issues with helium balloons? If they have landed in your fields how have your horses reacted? It might be a good idea to introduce your animals to some balloons in a controlled way. This may help to prevent them being really spooked if they encounter one.

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