‘Traditions need to change’: pony killed by car after trying to escape fireworks

  • The owner of a pony who died when he was struck by a car after he jumped out of his field while trying to flee from nearby fireworks has said “traditions need to change”.

    Claire Willard’s 18-month New Forest colt Archer jumped a five-bar gate out of his field in Marchwood, Hampshire, on 4 November. When more fireworks went off Archer ran onto the road into the path of a car and was killed.

    Claire told H&H she received a telephone call from Sarah Mills, Archer’s breeder and owner of his fieldmate Harry, shortly before 10pm to tell her Archer had died.

    “Sarah lives round the corner from the field and saw on a local Facebook group that a pony had escaped while fireworks were going off so she went to check the ponies. A motorist had seen Archer standing by the gate so stopped and put his hazard lights on to try and warn others while he tried to find out who owned him,” she said.

    “He told Sarah that while he was in his car Archer spooked again as more fireworks went off and he ran onto the road and was hit head first by an oncoming vehicle. We think he died instantly.”

    Claire attended the scene while Archer’s body was removed from the road by a farmer. The following day when he was collected she took images that she has shared on social media.

    **Warning: very upsetting image**

    “I wouldn’t usually take pictures or post something like that but I wanted people to see the aftermath of what can happen when fireworks are let off near livestock. Archer was only 12.2hh, he was in a five acre field, and was still scared enough to jump a five-bar gate,” she said.

    “Sarah and I are both devastated. I had known Archer since he was foal and bought him from Sarah earlier this year. The plan was he’d spend the winter with Harry then come to join my other ponies in the spring.”

    Claire’s post has been shared more than 9,000 times. Her friends Danni Alexander and Michael Pearson have set up a Facebook group, Archer’s Legacy – Campaign Against the Sale of Domestic Fireworks, which will be used to share firework stories, awareness campaigns and petitions.

    “I’ve had so many messages of condolences, but also messages from people saying they never thought fireworks could have an impact like this so the post has got people thinking,” said Claire.

    “If people are so determined to see fireworks then they should go to an organised display and have some common sense around animals. I know fireworks are seen as a tradition, but in this day and age sometimes traditions need to change.”

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