A horse for whom showing producer Lynn Russell had “great hopes” ran through four fences, broke a leg and had to be put down after military aircraft flew low overhead.
Six-year-old Celestial Rock was due to go to his first show, Surrey County, the day after the accident last Sunday (28 May).
“It was awful,” Lynn told H&H. “I haven’t had a show hunter because I hadn’t found one I liked for years – I’m gutted as I thought this one might be the one.”
Lynn said the aircraft flew over her Surrey yard in the late afternoon, after which Celestial Rock was turned out.
“A girl who works for me went to check the horses later and we found him – he’d gone through four sets of post and rail,” she said. “He’d smashed his leg to bits.
“We don’t know how long he’d been like that but I think it was quite some time.
“My vet said the horse was terrified; so traumatised, it can only have been because of the aircraft.”
Lynn said she arrived at Surrey County at 7am the following day for a 2pm class as she “couldn’t face being at home”.
She intended to call the MoD over the incident.
“My vet suggested I deal with the military,” she said. “It can’t bring him back, I can’t change anything but if it makes someone more aware, that would be great.
“It was so upsetting. These things happen but it was the way it happened; and it didn’t need to happen.”
An RAF spokesman said: “Two US Air Force aircraft were briefly flying in low flying area 1 in southern England on the afternoon of Sunday 28 May.
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“Low flying training is essential for UK and allied forces as it enables aircrew to operate safely under the most testing operational conditions in support of our security.
“During such training, aircrew do not fly over horses deliberately and will try to avoid them whenever it is safe and practical to do so.”