A semi-retired mare, who enjoyed gentle hacks and drives with her owner after pulling a tourist carriage in Great Yarmouth for 19 years, was killed instantly last weekend when she was hit by lightning while grazing in her field, near Banbury.
Her owner Gerry Wigram left Jessie happily grazing in her field at around 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon. When he returned at 6pm she was dead and all her whiskers were singed.
Dramatic thunder and lightning storms had been raging in the area all day long, and Gerry immediately guessed what the cause of death must have been.
“Jessie must have died instantly,” said local vet, Simon Richards. “She still had grass in her mouth, and was obviously grazing when she was hit.
“Horses are incredibly sensitive to electricity, and it is very unusual for them to survive a strike like this.”
Simon believes cases such as this are simply bad luck and that there isn’t much owners can do to avoid their horses being hit: “There aren’t really any precautions you can take, it’s pretty much down to luck I’m afraid.”
However, Simon stressed that cases of horses being struck by lightning are extremely rare, saying that it is more often sheep and cattle that fall victim to electrical storms.