A woman believes that a flyover by the Red Arrows aerobatics display at the Plymouth Air Show on Thursday 3 September caused her potential dressage horse to panic in its stable and break its neck.

Alfie, a two-year-old, German warmblood, worth £7,000, was discovered dead in his stable just minutes after the airshow.

A post-mortem examination found that he died from a broken vertebrae caused by a head-on collision, which severed the spinal cord at the base of his skull.

It is believed that he bolted as nine, low-flying Hawk T1 jets flew over his stable.

His owner, Laura Head from Plymouth, believes that he was trying to escape the roar of the jets: “There were no external injuries. He looked like he panicked and ran straight into a wall, hitting his head on the stable ceiling or on the doorway.

“He must have been absolutely terrified of the jets because he is usually such a placid horse,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

Miss Head, who had bought Alfie just 10 days earlier from a breeder in Nottinghamshire, emphasised that the other horses in the stables were also distressed as the planes were flying so low.

She has launched an official complaint against the RAF, and is now considering legal action.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that although low-flying training is carried out across the UK, “aircrew do not fly over livestock or horses deliberately, and try to avoid them wherever it is safe and practicable to do so”.