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East Peckham: Horses spooked by Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent hunt

By Natalie Tipping

Horses fled for miles after a hunt on Halloween afternoon spooked them.

Owners around East Peckham and Golden Green were left scouring the fields for their animals after they were scared by members of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt, who had passed through the area on one of their rides.

Emily Sweeney spent six hours looking for her horse Hamish after he escaped from land off Bullen Lane, East Peckham.

Relieved owner Emily Sweeney after she found her horse Hamish this morning.

Relieved owner Emily Sweeney after she found her horse Hamish this morning.

She said: "We were unaware the hunt was coming, and they came right past our fence line. Along with the horses and dogs were quad bikes, and a lot of shouting.

"One of the rules of the hunt is to not disturb livestock, so I would call their conduct into question. Hamish had gone four miles to where I found him near The Hop Farm.

"I’m relieved he’s back home and unhurt, but he was still shaking when I got him home. I’m exhausted and upset by the lack of care shown by the hunt."

Stuart Attwood, whose horse is in the same herd as Hamish, said: "The horses were all bunched together, which is a protective thing that herds do.

"A little before that they were running around like mad things, and this is where injuries can occur as they kick out and buck at each other, not because they’re being nasty but because they’re scared and aren’t sure how to cope with it."

Hamish on alert shortly before running away.

Hamish on alert shortly before running away.

David Brimson, whose horses were also affected, said it could have been much worse.

"When horses get scared like that there’s a risk they can get colic, which can cause their stomach to go into complete trauma, and they could die,” he explained.

"It’s so irresponsible that the hunt didn’t tell us. I don’t get involved with the politics of hunting, but they don’t do themselves any favours with things like this."

Kay Wiles had to search for her horse Buster for an hour and a half after he fled from his paddock near the Man of Kent pub on Tonbridge Road.

She said: "The hunt distressed him massively, and we were chasing him along main roads and across local fields for an hour and a half before finally catching him at Little Mill Stables. 

"We had to call an emergency vet to him as he couldn't walk and was bleeding from his mouth. He would have got these injuries due to leaping fences in sheer terror to get away from the commotion going through the field behind us."

Richard Gurney, a spokesman for the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt, said: "We always aim to alert all residents that we will be staging hunts, as we don’t want to leave horses distressed or potentially injured.

"The last thing we want is for people to not be properly warned. This was an unfortunate accident and we apologise sincerely for it."

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