Wedding celebrations turned to tragedy last weekend when a pair of carriage horses used to take a bride and her father to the church ceremony were hit by a van and bolted, resulting in the death of one of the horses.
Chriysor, a nine-year-old 17hh black Friesian, one of a pair used by Roger Clayton from Claytons Carriage Masters for weddings, was severely injured that and had to be put down at the scene.
Chriysor and seven-year-old Champion had taken the bride to St Mary’s in Burton Latimer, Kettering, and were waiting outside the church when the accident happened at around 1pm on Saturday 12 July.
“I had just stepped down from the box seat and was getting the horses ready to move into the shade because it was so hot when all hell broke loose,” a devastated Roger told HHO.
“A white van shot past the two horses and passed so close to Chriysor that it ripped the bridle clean off him. He shot up into the air, knocking the groom sideways, before the pair of them bolted up the road.”
As they took off, the horses smashed into seven cars before being caught.
“It was a horrific sight,” said Roger. “Chriysor was badly injured and literally cut to pieces – what made it worse was the fact we had to wait 45 minutes for the vet.”
Champion was treated at the scene before being taken home and their groom, although shaken, was not hurt in the incident. The road remained shut for several hours while the debris was cleared away.
“Champion will never work again and I will probably retire him now,” said Roger. “Both those horses were 120% traffic-proof – you could take them anywhere but I defy any horse not to react the way they did after what happened.”
The bride and groom were unaware of the events and their wedding ceremony went ahead as planned, but alternative arrangements were made to take the couple on to their reception.
The van driver did not stop to help or give out contact details so Roger has issued the following plea: “If anyone knows the driver, I would urge them to contact the police. I haven’t just lost a horse, I have lost a friend and part of my livelihood.”
A spokesperson for Northamptonshire police confirmed that they were investigating the accident as a road traffic incident. Anyone with any information should contact Northamptonshire police (tel: 01604 700700).