Lucky escape after drone spooks horses: rider calls for more controls

  • A rider who says she was lucky to avoid a serious accident when a drone was released yards away from her horse is calling for more control over their use.

    Joanna Jeans and her husband Simon had returned to their trailer after a ride on the Mendip Hills, Somerset, on 26 November when they saw another car had parked behind it.

    The couple were untacking their horses when they heard an “extraordinary noise” about 10 feet away.

    “We were very lucky,” Joanna told H&H.

    “I couldn’t work out what the man was doing; I saw something metal in his hand but I’m not familiar with drones, and I thought he looked a bit cagey, like he was doing something he shouldn’t be.

    “Then there was this noise. Both horses were startled and went into full flight mode. Simon’s mare is a very flighty warmblood but luckily he managed to hang on to her.”

    Joanna said the drone quickly rose high enough that the horses could no longer see it, after which she and her husband spoke to the operator.

    “It was his attitude,” she said. “If Simon hadn’t managed to hang on, Storm could have galloped off down the road; the man could have caused a serious accident, as well as killing one of our horses.

    “But he was completely deadpan. I don’t think he had any understanding of what he’d done.”

    Joanna said she believes there should be more control on drone-flying, owing to the potential for accidents in a number of different spheres.

    “People who fly model aircraft belong to clubs and there are rules on what they can and can’t do,” she said. “But there’s nothing for drones. I’ve heard talk about people having to have qualifications but I think they should have licences.

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    “What happened to us could have been really nasty. We’re not fussy with our horses; we throw all sorts at them to try to make them bombproof but we were so lucky Storm didn’t get free and gallop off down the road.”

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