The owner of a colt who died after being spooked by a low-flying military helicopter is calling on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to avoid training over heavily populated equine areas.

Sally Earnshaw found her yearling, Chino, lying on the wrong side of his post-and-rail fencing in March.

She believes he was spooked by a low flying MOD helicopter that flew over the family’s Gloucestershire farm the previous evening.

“It was a horrific shock. We found him gasping and unable to get up,” said Mrs Earnshaw.

The horse had broken his back and was put down. She wrote to the MOD, pointing out the dangers and put in a claim for the vet’s fees.

She received a letter confirming helicopters had been in her area, but stating it was not possible to avoid flying over less populated areas.

The MOD said they avoid towns, cities, hospitals, industrial sites and Riding for the Disabled Association stables, but cannot add any other restrictions.

Mrs Earnshaw said 2 low-flying aircraft came over her manège recently when her daughter was schooling a 5-year-old. She wants the MOD to “give us more respect”.

An MOD spokesman said: “Every effort is made to minimise disruption to the local community, however, the MOD has a high level of commitments that require demanding training .”

The MOD will pay “reasonable ex-gratia compensation”, where a link can be established between military aircraft activity and any loss or injury sustained.

Sheila Hardy, of the British Horse Society (BHS), told H&H the organisation has worked closely with the MOD to try to avoid such incidents.

“We know the MOD takes these matters very seriously.”

Tel: 0800 515544 to find out if low-flying is in your area

This article was first published in Horse & Hound on 12 June 2014