Home » Four injured as runaway military horses bolt through central London

Four injured as runaway military horses bolt through central London

By Liz Jackson & James W Kelly,BBC News

Watch: Cavalry horses cause chaos in London

Four people have been taken to hospital after five runaway horses of the Household Cavalry threw off their riders and raced through London.

The horses, one of which was covered in blood, caused chaos as they roamed the city centre and collided with vehicles, including a double-decker bus and taxi.

They initially became spooked by loud construction during a routine military exercise in Belgravia, the Army said.

Officers said the horses had been recovered and returned to camp.

Two of the animals were finally recovered in Limehouse in east London, more than five miles from where the incident began. The Army said they were undergoing veterinary care.

An army spokesperson told the BBC that three soldiers were receiving treatment for non-life threatening injuries. The fourth person injured in the incident is believed to be a cyclist and member of the public.

PA Media Horse running towards shocked cyclistsPA Media

The chaos began while members of the Household Cavalry – members of the military who carry out ceremonial duties around Buckingham Palace – were taking part in a rehearsal for a Major General’s Inspection – which was due to take place on Thursday in Hyde Park, the Army told the BBC.

Every military unit taking part in the King’s birthday parade, which takes place in June, must pass a Major General’s Inspection in advance. An Army spokesman said the group included six soldiers and seven horses. Four soldiers were thrown from their saddles, and five horses ran loose through London.

‘Heartfelt gratitude’

Lt Col Matt Woodward, commanding officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, said: “Building materials were dropped from height right next to them.

“The ensuing shock caused all horses to bolt and unseated some riders.”

He expressed “heartfelt gratitude” to the emergency services and the public who helped in securing the horses.

Photo showing smashed glass on a tour bus near the scene of the collision with a horse in London

Eyewitness Tony Bonsignore said a horse collided with a tour bus at the scene – none of the bus staff were injured

One serviceman was thrown from his horse on Buckingham Palace Road, before one of the loose animals collided with a taxi waiting outside the Clermont Hotel, shattering the windows.

London Ambulance Service said four people were treated by paramedics in Buckingham Palace Road, Belgrave Square, and the junction between Chancery Lane and Fleet Street. All four were taken to hospital.

It said all three incidents took place within 10 minutes, between 08:25 and 08:35 BST.

Photo of blue tarpaulin covering a member of the public while they were treated by paramedics

Blue tarpaulin was used while one member of the public was treated by paramedics, Tony Bonsignore said

An Army spokesperson added: “A number of military working horses became loose during routine exercise this morning.

“All of the horses have now been recovered and returned to camp. A number of personnel and horses have been injured and are receiving the appropriate medical attention.”

Smashed window

Grace Whitaker, 23, told the BBC she had just got off a bus on her way to work when she saw several emergency services vehicles near Victoria Station.

“I saw about five fire engines, six ambulances,” she said. “I saw one of the horses that was involved, saw some members of the army. It was quite the scene with lots of emergency services around putting up cordons.”

“One of the black horses was there. I thought maybe it was a police horse that had come to attend to the scene but obviously I now know it was one of the horses that had escaped.

“I saw what looked like a taxi van that had damage to it, a smashed window. I think everyone’s immediate impression was that somebody had been hit by a car. We were quite surprised when we realised it was to do with horses.”

PA Media A black and white horse run through the street in central LondonPA Media

Two of the horses, one covered in blood, running through central London without riders

Ms Whitaker added that she witnessed at least one person being treated for injuries.

“There was a blue tent around what I assume was an injured person.”

‘Distressed’

Megan Morra told the BBC she was walking to work when she she saw police officers “running through the street”, and another walking a “very bloody” black horse down the path.

She said the horse appeared to be suffering from a large head injury.

“There was a lot of blood,” she says. “I was a bit distressed to be honest, looking at the poor horse.”

Map detailing where the horses were spotted

Black cab driver Robbie told BBC Radio London he narrowly avoided being hit by the horses.

He said: “I was just outside Buckingham Palace on the Mall and heard loads of galloping and looked behind and there were about three or four horses.

“Two of them were sprinting up towards Trafalgar Square and there was a white one covered in blood as well.

“I looked in the rear mirror and saw them coming right up behind me, and at the time I had two punters in the back so I was worried about them.”

‘Risked their own safety’

Insp Myles Hilbery, of City of London Police, praised the two officers who helped catch the horses in Limehouse.

“Police constables Lucy Hawes and Daniel McKeown risked their own safety to provide first aid to the injured and anxious horses,” he said.

“They kept the horses calm while waiting for a horse box and veterinary team to arrive.”

A grey taxi badly damaged with smashed windows outside the Clermont hotel on Buckingham Palace Road

One of the loose animals collided with a taxi waiting outside the Clermont Hotel, shattering the windows

London Fire Brigade said it had used its drone team to help locate the animals.

The incident is unusual, as the horses of the Household Cavalry are specifically chosen by the army.

According to forces.net, the horses are chosen for their height (at least 168cm) and strength as they need to be able to carry a soldier plus kit for a long period of time.

The horses are trained for several months and ridden on the streets of London to get used to heavy traffic and loud noises, including gun salutes and military bands.

Each horse is usually assigned to one specific soldier.

Additional reporting by Ian Aikman and PA Media.

Presentational grey line