Warning: Horse killed by helium balloon
A showjumping thoroughbred horse has been killed by a helium balloon as owner slams whoever was responsible as having a 'self-centred sentimentality' for letting off the celebratory Chinese lantern.
3 year old thoroughbred, Espoiro tragically died after accidentally eating the string of a helium balloon which landed in her field. The horse was worth £15,000 and was ranked 12th in the world for show jumpers in 2012.
Owner, Jennifer Birtwhistle now considers people that let of the laterns to celebrate occasions such as weddings, New Year, birthdays and funerals as 'self-centred'.
Mrs Birwhistle, who is a leading horse breeder from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, claims they are a dangerous fad causing serious damage to rural England.
She said: 'God isn't sitting in his heaven gathering up all this airborne litter that is sent up with messages attached to it on pieces of string. 'It doesn't reach anyone, it is entirely self serving.'
Mrs Birtwhistle added: 'What in fact happens is that these balloons and lanterns land in the countryside and put animals at risk, beautiful ones like my horse who end up dying in agony.'
''This is becoming more prevalent and I want people to know the damage it is doing.'
This comes after her loved 3 year old Espoiro died an excruciating death after swallowing the string from a pink helium balloon that landed in its paddock.
In panic, the horse charged at two gates breaking both her legs then shortly after, her neck, which eventually killed her. Mrs Birtwhistle, who has a senior position in the equestrian world has been left broken-hearted. She described the users of the items as stated: These are self-centred acts of sentimentality with no true purpose which are littering the countryside with helium balloons and lanterns.
'Aside from the mess and inconvenience people in the countryside face, it has now cost the life of a beautiful horse which died the most agonising death imaginable.'
She is devastated by the loss of her favourite mare who her family nicknamed ‘Feisty’ because of her bold character. She had high hopes for a prosperous future and it is a tragic loss.
Feisty was ranked 12th in the world in 2012 and has also bred four star eventers and Nations Cup show jumpers.
Mrs Birtwhistle was brought to tears as she grievously described Feisty's death. She said: 'This wasn't an act of God, she wasn't standing there and was suddenly struck by lightning.
'She was in her field next to our home with her mother and she should have been safe from harm.
'But this pink helium balloon dropped into the field and the thick string lay there in the grass and she swallowed it and began choking.'
She said: 'She bolted across the field in a panic with the string down her throat. The rest of it wrapped itself around her neck and the balloon itself was over her face. She ran straight through a gate and broke two of her legs.'Her power and panic took her across a lane and straight through another gate, breaking her neck.
Adding: 'She was a beautiful horse with a lovely nature and she came from an impeccable bloodline.’
'Her life was snuffed out before it had properly begun and that is absolutely heartbreaking. She was quite a valuable horse at around £15,000 but her financial value is entirely secondary to the pain we have felt at her truly awful death.'
Mrs Birtwhistle accuses 'airborne littering,' mostly from towns and cities,of causing huge hazards within the English countryside.
She said: 'Balloons and lanterns are being released in what are self-centred acts of sentimentality.
'People release them at weddings, if someone goes missing, for birthday parties, if someone in the family dies.
'It's a fad, just a fashion but I'm quite sure if anyone knew the damage they were doing it would become a lot less popular.’
Mrs Birtwhistle said: 'Why is it no longer good enough to go to a church and say a prayer or lay flowers on a grave to commemorate a person's passing? It has been good enough for many generations but no longer it seems.
John Millar, a local vet has sided with the warnings of Mrs Birtwhistle, saying: 'People think these balloons and lanterns are just a bit of fun but they can cause devastation. When horses are panicked they will run through anything.'
What is most worrying is the regularity fo these incidents in recent years. According to reports, dozens of farmers and residents have announced injuries from airborne items in the last few years.
A floating lantern very nearly killed a mother and her two children after it landed on her half-built extension and set fire to the roof insulation back in 2011. In 2010 a family fireworks party ended horrifically after boiling wax fell from a floating lantern, landing on a three-year-old boy's face, that nearly blinded him.
Only 5 months ago a horse from Essex was badly burned as a result, discovered in his paddock with bits of the lantern stuck to his body.
According to reports, it is estimated that 200,000 lanterns are sold in the UK each year. Last year the Marine Conservation Society also called for a stop to the products. A spokesman said: 'Many marine species, including turtles and dolphins, accidentally eat balloons because they think they are food. This blocks their stomach and can cause them to die. Animals also get entangled in balloons.
'This is really simple to stop – just don't release balloons.'
The team at Horsemart urge anyone using these products to consider the detrimental damage they cause to animals, wildlife and the environment and the responsibility they hold for the repercussions.
Images sourced: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/