Owner heartbroken as young Harrogate horse choked to death by balloon

Jennifer Birtwhistle with her son, Drew, who would have showjumped with Feisty.
Jennifer Birtwhistle with her son, Drew, who would have showjumped with Feisty.
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The owner of a horse killed by a balloon has branded the innocent animal’s tragic death as ‘thoughtless’ and ‘unnecessary’.

Jennifer Birtwhistle, who runs Harrogate Riding Centre in Burn Bridge has urged people to be more considerate after her horse choked to death on a balloon.

The balloon had come down in the horse’s field, and after getting the string entangled around its head and down its throat, the horse bolted through two gates in fear.

Jennifer said: “It was a young horse only three years old so it had all its life ahead of it.

“It panicked because it couldn’t breathe and it head had become all entangled in the string so it bolted in absolute terror and went through the gate so hard it broke its leg and then carried on through a second gate and broke its neck.”

The horse had been called Espoiro but was nicknamed ‘Feisty’ as a result of her brave and inquisitive nature.

Feisty had been home bred by Jennifer for her son to take showjumping, but despite her potential, Feisty died before ever having the chance to showcase her talent.

Jennifer said: “We are heartbroken, we are walking around in disbelief, we can hardly believe it has happened. We are looking at the gate which she collided into with sheer terror, it was just so unnecessary.

“She was so gorgeous, everybody around here loved her and knew her, she was home bred so its a sad thing for her to end up dying where she was bred.”

But this is not the first time an incident like this has happened, with programmes such as Countryfile appealing for people to consider the consequences of littering and setting off Chinese lanterns and balloons.

Jennifer said: “These helium balloons that people put up at parties, they let them off and we have been picking them up - they have long tails and messages attached.

“There’s nothing really the police can do. I’m really trying to get through to Countryfile because they have appealed to people about this issue before.

“What goes up must come down and they are coming down and choking sheep and other animals in the fields.

“There’s still one hooked in a tree on our lane which has been there now for two years.

“People walk dogs and collect their dog mess in plastic bags but then they are putting them under the hedges or just dropping them in the fields and if that gets down a horse’s throat or a cow’s, they will be dead.

“It’s very sad, people are being thoughtless, these are innocent animals. If they could have seen this accident here, they wouldn’t be doing it.”