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Military horses ran loose through the streets of London once again

Members of the Life Guards, a division of the Household Cavalry in London, on June 8, 2024. Three military horses have been recovered after bolting through central London on Monday morning.
Benjamin Cremel
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AFP via Getty Images
Members of the Life Guards, a division of the Household Cavalry in London, on June 8, 2024. Three military horses have been recovered after bolting through central London on Monday morning.

Several military horses ditched their riders and hoofed it through central London on Monday morning, the second such incident in less than three months. Authorities have already reined them in.

"We can confirm that whilst exercising this morning, three horses from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment became loose from their riders," a British Army spokesperson told NPR over email. "They were swiftly and safely recovered."

Six horses and five riders were out on a routine exercise when the lead horse — which was being led, not ridden — got spooked by a London bus.

At that point two riders fell off their horses, and all three free horses took off together. Dashcam footage shared by the BBC on social media shows one of them narrowly colliding with a car before continuing down the busy street at a brisk trot.

The trio bolted from Seville Street to South Eaton Place, where authorities managed to recover one horse. The other two continued to Vauxhall Bridge before they were stopped.

All the animals were returned to Hyde Park Barracks by 9:55 a.m. local time.

"One horse received minor injuries, but no further treatment is required and there were no injuries to the soldiers involved," the army spokesperson added.

Monday's incident resembles a similar series of events in late April, when five military horses out exercising got spooked by construction noises and bolted, unseating their riders and charging through central London at morning rush hour.

The horses — one of which appeared covered in blood — tore a destructive six-mile path through the city over a two-hour period, smashing into vehicles and knocking at least one person to the ground. Four humans were injured across three separate incidents that day.

None of those runaway horses were involved in Monday’s incident. But the startling scene still triggered some deja vu.

The Telegraph reports that as Army troops waited on the pavement with the recovered horses, stroking them and calming them down, a passerby called out, "Did they get loose again?"

"Yeah," a police officer replied.

After the April incident, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals UK said on X (formerly Twitter) that the ordeal should serve as a reminder that animals are not military equipment, adding it was "high time the Ministry of Defence put its use of sentient beings out to pasture."

It reiterated that call on Monday, tweeting, "Horses don't belong on busy streets."

Copyright 2024 NPR

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.