Army horses escape and run loose through central London

Four people taken to hospital after bloodied animal sighted galloping through city centre

Escaped military horses run amok in central London

Escaped military horses run amok in central London
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Escaped military horses ran loose in central London on Wednesday in chaotic scenes that left several people injured after they apparently bolted during exercise.

A group of seven horses and six soldiers from the Household Cavalry were on an extended exercise in Belgravia on Wednesday when chaos erupted.

It is believed the animals were spooked when some concrete being moved by builders hit the ground.

Two horses – one covered in blood – galloped along Buckingham Palace Road outside Victoria Station, a short distance from where the Household Cavalry is based.

One of the horses ran into a taxi outside a hotel, throwing its rider to the ground, while another collided with a tour bus, smashing the windscreen as they charged through the city, leaving pedestrians fleeing their path.

They ran through many of the capital's most recognisable areas, including Tower Bridge and the Strand, before the first two were captured near Limehouse in east London, about 10km from where they bolted.

All the horses have since been rounded up safely.

Four people were taken to hospital, said the London Ambulance Service, which received calls from the public from several areas.

  • The first came in at 8.25am, reporting a person being thrown from a horse on Buckingham Palace Road. The patient was taken to hospital.
  • Two minutes later medics were called to nearby Belgrave Square and found two people injured by horses. They were taken to hospital.
  • Another call was made at 8.35am at the junction of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street, from where a fourth person was taken to hospital.

A witness on Lower Belgrave Street told The National he heard a "boom".

"I thought it was a car accident. Then I saw the horses," said Bashir Aden, who works in security for a construction company.

He said something spooked the horses near a junction at Lower Belgrave Street, causing them to bolt across the road, running directly into a silver Mercedes-Benz people carrier outside the Clermont Hotel.

"You can see the marks on the road from where they panicked. I don't know what stressed it," he said.

He added: "Someone told me the other horse smashed into a bus. People ran here screaming when they saw the horses coming."

The horse that ran into the taxi outside the hotel was left covered in blood, he said.

Mr Aden said he sees the horses being exercised regularly in the area.

"I saw them just yesterday," he added.

"The guy riding the horse fell down on to the street. It was very serious. He was unconscious. He wasn’t moving. He is military and was wearing a green uniform.

"He was lying there for 30 minutes until they took him away."

Mr Aden said the scene was covered in blue sheeting until the soldier was taken to hospital.

In a video statement posted on X, Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Matt Woodward said the unit exercises around 150 horses on the roads and in parks every morning, partly to help desensitise them to city noise.

“This morning, however, a small group of horses were spooked by some construction works on a quiet side road in Belgravia where building materials were dropped from height right next to them. The ensuing shock caused all horses to bolt and unseated some riders,” he said.

After thanking the emergency services and the public for their help, he added: “Thankfully, considering the frequency of exercise and numbers of horses involved, this type of incident is extremely rare, we continue to strive to minimise the risk of this recurring.

“As ever we are grateful for due consideration given by the members of the public to not making loud noises around our horses.”

The animals are all receiving care from vets at Hyde Park barracks.

One commuter shared a video to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, showing a black and a white horse, the latter spattered with what appeared to be blood, with both being pursued by a black car.

Tracy, 20, from London, told the PA news agency: "It was the street from Tower Bridge towards Limehouse Tunnel ... just running past cars and an unmarked Range Rover following them."

Police said two horses were later "contained on the Highway near Limehouse".

"We’re waiting for an army horsebox to collect the horses and transport them to veterinary care," police said in a statement.

Household Cavalry

The Household Cavalry is made up of the two most senior regiments in the British Army – The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals.

It is divided into the Household Cavalry Regiment and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

The military describes the soldiers of Household Cavalry as "the monarch’s trusted guardians" and the public face of the British Army both at home and abroad.

Horses on the loose in central London - in pictures

Updated: April 25, 2024, 8:14 AM