‘There was so much panic’: How five Household Cavalry horses wreaked havoc across six miles of central London

Panicked one-tonne cavalry horses threw off their army riders before smashing into a tour bus and taxis, leaving a 5-mile-long bloody trail in their wake through the city of London.

Police followed two of the five Household Cavalry Mounted regiment horses for more than five miles as tourists fled in terror to escape their path of destruction, while the other three were quickly caught.

The drama began near Buckingham Palace Road at 8am where witnesses saw a serviceman thrown from his horse after falling concrete spooked the animals whilst on an exercise session.

Three soldiers were left injured before one of the loose animals crashed into a taxi shattering the windows.

Workers near the Clermont Hotel in central London described the “total mayhem” when the horses galloped through the packed street in morning rush hour.

Roland, a worker for tour bus company, Toot Bus, said: “I saw horses come from the bus station in front of Victoria run around in a frenzy.

“People were running around to avoid them – it was total mayhem.”

‘People were running around to avoid them – it was total mayhem’ (Philipe Orome/PA Wire)
‘People were running around to avoid them – it was total mayhem’ (Philipe Orome/PA Wire)

Darren Brookes, a site manager, who was working opposite the four-star hotel in Victoria, told The Independent: “They ran past us towards hotel, and smashed into a van parked outside.

“The serviceman was thrown off the white horse and hit the ground with a massive bang. He was shouting in pain.

“Everyone at the bus stop outside the hotel started screaming and shouting - there was so much panic.

“People ran over to help the fallen soldier, but other people were just too scared and were running away.

Mr Brookes said the serviceman was on the ground for about 30 minutes before paramedics took him to the hospital.

“The black horse then ran into a tour bus and smashed the windscreen,” he added.

“That’s when I saw the blood - the horse was cut across its chest.

“I could see the blood everywhere. It was on the bus and the van.”

One of the horses was covered in blood as two of the animals galloped in the road near Aldwych (PA Wire)
One of the horses was covered in blood as two of the animals galloped in the road near Aldwych (PA Wire)

The two horses were then seen running in the road near Aldwych with medics called two minutes later to Belgrave Square surrounded by Grade I-listed international embassy buildings.

The bolting horses ploughed through an electricity box and destroyed multiple rental bikes left near the 19th-century garden square.

Belgrave Square (Alamy Stock Photo)
Belgrave Square (Alamy Stock Photo)

One of the damaged bikes was covered in blood which dripped onto the walkway beneath it.

A witness in Belgrave Square told The Independent: “There was horse blood all over the bikes and the pavement. I saw the white horse run past covered in blood.

“It all happened in the blink of an eye.”

The horses ploughed through an electricity box in Belgrave Square (Jabed Ahmed/The Independent)
The horses ploughed through an electricity box in Belgrave Square (Jabed Ahmed/The Independent)

Ambulance crews treated four people in three separate incidents in Buckingham Palace Road, Belgrave Square, and at the junction of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street, in the space of just 10 minutes.

The pair fled in fear down the Strand, past the Tower of London storming through traffic and onto the congested Highway at Limehouse, more than five miles from where they first bolted.

The adrenaline-fuelled chase came to an end with the white horse struggling to move its badly injured leg as it bled heavily on the pavement of the dual carriageway.

One gas engineer saw the soldiers try and lead the white horse into the back of a horsebox after police finally caught up to them at 8.55am.

Soldiers in camouflage were seen stroking the horses’ faces and talking to them in a bid to soothe the pair and get them safely back to their base in a mobile horse box.

The engineer told The Independent: “We heard police sirens then saw the officers stopping the traffic. We saw blood all over the horses. It was heartbreaking to see a one-tonne horse like that in so much pain.

“I used to own horses. He was holding his leg up - that is telling you it is painful in some way.

“With leg damage on the horse, it will not heal. If a tendon is broken he will be put down. Horses are very sensitive to any damage to the leg.

Horse appears to have injured its leg (Tom Cahill)
Horse appears to have injured its leg (Tom Cahill)

“I love horses. A beautiful horse like that, he needs to be run. If he just sits and eats he goes crazy. And then when he goes and gets frightened he runs even more.

He added: “It is so upsetting. If a one-tonne horse is in London however much he is run that is only a quarter of how much exercise he should get otherwise he goes ballistic.

“I hope he is going to be alright but I don’t think he will be.”

Blood at the scene (Barney Davis)
Blood at the scene (Barney Davis)

Tom Cahill, 21, saw the injured horse struggling in pain as police closed The Highway to traffic an hour after they escaped.

He told The Independent: “The army were trying to calm it down. It is nuts how it ran all the way from Buckingham Palace through the traffic lights to here.

“I have never seen something like it before. All the blood is just being cleaned up now.”

He added: “I don’t think horses like that should be in London, it’s too busy. Back in the day people would drive slowly around them but now no-one cares.

“It is just really sad. I don’t think horses should be on the streets. They are so aware of what is happening.”

Blood left at the scene after one was seen limping into horse box (Barney Davis)
Blood left at the scene after one was seen limping into horse box (Barney Davis)

One street cleaner tasked with cleaning up the large pool of blood said it was the worst thing he had seen since the Vauxhall helicopter crash in 2013 which claimed the lives of two people.

He told The Independent: “It is the strangest job I have been called to in a long time. It’s crazy you don’t expect it.

“The last big accident I can remember working on like this is the Vauxhall air disaster that was the last major thing.

“Every day is different in this job. When we got here there was lots of horse manure and blood it was a horrid mess.

“Of course we hope the horse is ok. But if its leg is broken that is it for him, sadly.”

The two street cleaners flagged down a passing fire engine who offered to hose down the large pool of blood left behind.

He added: “We had to ask the firefighters to give us a hand otherwise we would be here until dark.”

An Army spokesman said: “A number of military working horses became loose during routine exercise this morning. All of the horses have now been recovered and returned to camp.

“A number of personnel and horses have been injured and are receiving the appropriate medical attention.”