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‘It’s a nightmare’: lockdown walkers scare horses, damage crops and drop litter

Hordes of walkers have been dropping litter, scaring horses on purpose and even behaving aggressively to landowners since the coronavirus lockdown.

Sarah Clarence told H&H her partner’s family farm has been “inundated” with people taking their allotted exercise on – and off – the footpaths that run across the land.

“It’s all a bit of a nightmare,” she said.

“There’s been a big increase; we used to get the same half-dozen regulars walking their dogs through the farm but now there will be someone every 15 to 20 minutes.

“Some aren’t even sticking to the footpaths; they’re walking on crops because they want to keep the 2m distance from each other, but if you’re that worried, you should stay at home. But they all want their exercise, and to come into the countryside to do it – and most of them don’t know how to behave in the countryside.”

Sarah said people, possibly unaware how to operate pedestrian gates, have been climbing the larger motorised gates, twice breaking them.

And while some may not have realised the damage they are doing – such as one family she found playing a ball game in a drilled field and were very apologetic when asked to stop – others have behaved more badly.

“There was a family with kids walking past a horse and at first they were taking photos, and I thought fair enough,” she said. “Then the girl launched into star jumps and sent him spinning off and hooning around. She thought it was hilarious, and was hopping up and down to rile him even more, and the parents just stood there and watched.”

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Sarah continued: “I understand people might not have horses but when you try to tell them they’re flight animals and might injure themselves, people always know better, and say ‘I’m just doing this’, or ‘I’m just doing that’.

“And when you try to put them right, they’re so aggressive and ready for a fight; at least half the time, we get aggro from people.

“And although we always get litter, there’s definitely been an increase – including a lot of tissues, which is the last thing you want to pick up at the moment.”

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