Horse lovers have expressed their outrage after four horses were forced to swim across a river with celebrities on their backs in the new series of I’m A Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here.
Strictly Come Dancing star Camilla Dallerup, interior designer Justin Ryan, Stuart Manning from Hollyoaks and snooker player Jimmy White had to ride through a flowing river in the first episode of the series that aired on Sunday night (15 November).
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One angry reader wrote to H&H: “It [the use of horses] was absolutely disgusting. They had four ‘celebrities’ ride horses across a river. The horses had to swim and the terror was evident in their eyes as they struggled with the current and with the fools hanging out of their mouths. It made for very uncomfortable viewing and I feel really angry about this.”
And H&H forum users hit back at the show with many saying they were “shocked”.
“The horses did not look happy in the slightest, and it was so dangerous for horse and rider — I didn’t like it at all,” one forum user wrote.
Another added: “I was just sat here in shock, I thought it was really, really stupid and dangerous to be honest.”
“I am absolutely gobsmacked that they think it’s a sensible idea to put total novices on horse back and then get them to cross a strong flowing river,” said another.
The riders crossed the river but didn’t realise it would be so deep their mounts would have to swim.
At one point Jimmy White fell from his horse and got his foot stuck in the stirrup. Camilla also fell from her horse into the river.
A spokesman for the RSPCA added: “We share the strong concerns many viewers have about the continued use of animals in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.
“The use of animals in this way is completely unacceptable and could easily injure or cause great distress to the animals involved. There is no excuse for using animals in stunts that carry a high risk of them being harmed and we believe the series gives out a very irresponsible message to viewers about how to treat animals.
“In the past, the RSPCA has received dozens of complaints from members of the public about the programme, and in previous years we have written to the programme makers to express our deep concerns. We continue to hope that they will take our concerns on board and avoid using animals in this way.”
Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare added: “Horses are very competent swimmers but if they are to swim with a rider, that rider should also be competent. In this situation some of the riders did not appear competent.
“If a rider becomes frightened, that can distress the horse and may cause it to panic. In a panic a horse can easily injure itself or its rider and we would expect any TV company or organisation that uses horses in their work to do their utmost to avoid causing undue stress to a horse.”
An ITV spokesman said: “The horses are specifically trained to trek through water and swim on a daily basis. The celebrities were given a full and thorough briefing before they took part in the trek, and were accompanied at all times by expert handlers.”
- Do you think it is acceptable to use horses for entertainment in this way? Join in the debate on the H&H forum