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An ‘exceptional situation’: Two of London’s escaped horses undergo operations

Two horses on the loose, one covered in blood, bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych
Two horses on the loose, one covered in blood, bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych Copyright Jordan Pettitt/PA via AP
Copyright Jordan Pettitt/PA via AP
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Officials say that two of the horses who escaped on Wednesday, now named as Vida and Quaker, have undergone operations as result of their injuries.

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Two of the military horses that bolted through London on Wednesday have undergone operations to get back to full health.

Four runaway animals tore through rush hour traffic in the capital city, colliding with vehicles and causing four people to be rushed to hospital.

One of the horses, a white now named as Vida, was covered in blood, horrifying onlookers.

Vida and the other badly injured horse, Quaker, were said to be in a “serious condition” following the incident.

How did the horse-centred chaos unfold in London’s rush hour?

The four escaped horses are all members of the Household Cavalry, an army regiment which is part of the Household Division and one that acts as the King's official bodyguard.

During a routine exercise at Hyde Park barracks in central London at 8.40am local time, five of the horses are said to have been spooked by crashing building materials near Buckingham Palace.

Chaos ensued, with four service personnel thrown from their horses and five of the animals bolting. Four successfully broke loose and spread out across the city.

A horse collides with a taxi in central London on Wednesday
A horse collides with a taxi in central London on WednesdayJordan Pettitt/PA via AP

One of the horses struck a taxi with a passenger inside, leaving an enormous dent and shattering several of the vehicle’s windows.

Others smashed into a parked tourist bus and bumped into cabs and private cars.

Vida and Quaker were finally caught, much later, in Limehouse in east London - nearly 10 kilometres from where they set off.

The white horse, Vida, is said to have a history of being spooked and, reportedly, kicked a soldier in the head during the King's Coronation last May.

Animal rights organisations have spoken out about the shocking incident, saying the animals have no place in military roles in modern society.

“Horses are sensitive and become spooked easily, so forcing them to partake in drills, whether ceremonial or for crowd control, can upset them deeply,” PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen tells Euronews Green.

“Horses don’t choose to be fitted with bits and reins, subjected to loud noises, or used to carry humans on their backs,” she adds.

“Images of blood-soaked horses running, scared, through the streets should serve as a stark reminder that animals are not military equipment and that it’s high time the Ministry of Defence put its use of sentient beings out to pasture.”

The British Army has rebutted criticism, though. “Our horses receive the highest standards of care, and those that did not undergo surgery are expected to return to duty in due course,” it stated on X - formerly Twitter.

An ‘exceptional situation’: How rare is this kind of incident among working horses?

British defence minister James Cartlidge told radio station LBC the affair was a shock to all involved, emphasising that it was an “exceptional situation”.

“You are probably aware that the army has horses out on exercise in central London every day of the week. It is about 150 horses on average exercising every day,” Cartlidge said. “So this is extremely unlikely, this scenario.”

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The minister added that, although there were no serious injuries among the public, two of the three cavalry officers who were hurt in the incident are still in hospital under observation.

One of the soldiers was discharged overnight and the others are said to be in a stable condition. All are expected to “recover fully and return to duty”, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Cartlidge said he was glad there were no serious injuries, but said the ministry will be “keeping an eye on the situation.”

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