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Owner heartbroken by horse’s death after walkers left gate open

The owner of a 25-year-old gelding who died from a suspected heart attack after he escaped through a gate left open by walkers says he is “absolutely broken”.

A herd of 14 horses escaped from a field at Matley Moor, Derbyshire, on 3 January when walkers left a footpath and cut across the field, leaving the gate open.

Simon Saxon, 54, who owned three of the horses including former racehorse Joe, told H&H he received a call from a farmer to say the horses had been seen galloping up a one-mile track to the moor.

“Girls from the yard went chasing after the horses and they found them at the top of the hill standing around Joe,” he said.

“When I arrived the girls were crying and so was I. There were no marks or scuffles on the ground, we think he had a heart attack and went down instantly.”

The other horses were taken back to the field but Simon said they remain unsettled since the incident.

“That day none of them grazed – they just knew. My partner Jo’s horse Romeo is in the stable next door to Joe’s and he still can’t settle.”

Simon, who had planned to take Joe to a three-day camp at Somerford Park this year, said he is “heartbroken”.

“Joe was healthy, he had his teeth done by the vet on New Year’s Eve and he was doing well. I had been trying to retire him for five years but he loved to gallop and jump – if he wasn’t in work he would sulk,” he said.

“He was a gentleman and a superstar and this has absolutely broken me. Horses have helped me through some bad times in my life, from a mental health point of view they’re an asset. During difficult times the only thing that has kept me going is Joe.”

Simon said the number of walkers had greatly increased since Covid hit, and the public needs to be made aware of what they should and should not do.

“The other day we had 22 cars parked in a lane with people out walking – it’s getting beyond a joke,” he said.

“Last year I was riding Joe and came across walkers feeding horses the contents of their packed lunch. They see a horse and don’t have a clue what is poisonous to them or that they might be on a special diet. Just don’t do it.”

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In a separate incident on 30 January Cheshire Police reported that an escaped horse had been struck by a vehicle, and put down by a vet near Teggs Nose.

“That horse along with others had got out of their field,” said Sergeant Simpson.

“There is speculation that the gates had been left open by people sledging. This may or may not be the case, but please don’t leave gates open and you should have permission from the landowners to go in their fields.”

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