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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Escaped army horses careen through London, crashing into vehicles

Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London on Wednesday.  (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
By Karla Adam Washington Post

LONDON – Five horses from the king’s mounted bodyguard were startled at a construction site and galloped riderless through central London during morning rush hour before being recovered Wednesday.

One of the horses appeared to have blood on its chest and legs after colliding with a vehicle. Three soldiers and one pedestrian were injured.

“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 military spokeswoman told the Washington Post. “A number of personnel and horses have been injured and are receiving the appropriate medical attention.”

The horses were from the Household Cavalry, which participates in the ceremonial Changing of the Guard and major royal celebrations. These horses are selected for their temperament and are trained to remain calm while working amid chaotic crowds and unexpected noises. Throwing their riders and bolting are highly unusual.

As statements from officials and eyewitnesses rolled in Wednesday, a picture of events began to emerge.

Seven horses and six soldiers from the Household Cavalry had been engaged in what’s known as a “watering order,” which serves as both exercise and training for the sorts of sights and sounds they might encounter when on parade. They were just a day away from the Major General’s Inspection, an annual test of the regiment’s ability to carry out ceremonial duties for the year ahead.

The group was passing through London’s Belgravia neighborhood when builders dropped a load of concrete. Four of the horses unseated their riders, and a fifth, riderless, also bolted. Two of the soldiers managed to remain mounted. Three injured soldiers were taken to a hospital to be assessed.

The horses galloped through some of London’s most famous streets. A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said the first calls, around 8:25 a.m., reported a person being thrown from a horse on Buckingham Palace Road and other people injured in nearby Belgrave Square. Another injury was called in at the junction of Fleet Street and Chancery Lane, known for their associations with the media and the legal profession.

Photos shared on social media showed horses running by Victoria Station, one of the city’s busiest rail hubs, and along the Strand, a major thoroughfare in the heart of the capital. Their reins dangling, stirrups swinging, they wove their way around cars, bicycles and double-decker buses. One of the horses was spotted near Tower Bridge, and at least two made it to Limehouse – about five miles from Buckingham Palace.

Members of the public were filmed calming a black horse standing close to a bus with a cracked windshield.

A Mercedes van’s windows were also smashed. The owner of the van, identified only as Faraz, told LBC radio that he saw “three or four” horses and that a soldier fell off his horse. He said a white horse hit his vehicle and was left bleeding.

Around 10:30 a.m., two hours after the incident began, the London Metropolitan Police said that all five horses had been “contained.” They were returned to their stables at Hyde Park Barracks.

Bashir Aden, a construction worker, told the Daily Telegraph that he saw a rider thrown after the horse ran into a car. He said one of his colleagues called the police.

“The man hit the floor hard. He was screaming in pain. You could see blood all over the parked car,” Aden said.

The Household Cavalry is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British army. Soldiers are trained to drive and operate armored vehicles in combat situations, as well as to take part in the meticulously choreographed ceremonial events on horseback. They played a starring role at King Charles III’s coronation and at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.