Thanks to the infamy surrounding the famous racehorse Shergar, we’re all familiar with the concept of a horse disappearing, but have you ever heard of 1, let alone 80 horses, appearing out of thin air? This bizarre turn of events is not a farfetched plotline for the next series of Netflix smash hit Stranger Things, nor is it an impressive stunt pulled off by the likes of David Blaine or Dynamo, it is in fact all too real for organisers of the Leicester County Show, as this unbelievable turn of events is currently unfolding on their very showground.
At present, no one knows when the horses arrived, or how they got there. The horses have been contained in the car park, which is 15 acres, but this is not a sustainable measure. Great efforts have been made to salvage the showground, which is currently being ravaged by the animals, as they are eating all of the grass, and producing phenomenal amounts of manure, as well as breaking the fences into the main showground. James Webb, one of the directors of the Leicester Agricultural Society commented “Horses make the ground go sour, and we can’t have the showjumping ring like that.” To add insult to injury, on Monday night vandals broke into the showground and destroyed 40m of perimeter fencing, which lead to the ponies escaping onto the road. The horses have since been corralled and contained in the car park again, however this destructive prank has made life even more difficult for show organisers.
Webb commented “It must be 10 lorry loads of horses or something”, “Where did they all suddenly come from?”. Webb, and other members of the show’s organisational team have been working closely with Leicestershire police force, who are said to have been “brilliant”, however there is still no lead as to where the horses came from, or how best to deal with this perplexing situation. The showground is set to incur financial hardships, as they have already had to cancel a booked Halloween event, and they have lost a potential booking for a winter wonderland Christmas fair. There are also animal welfare concerns surround this predicament, as under the Control of Horses Act, the Leicester Agricultural Society could take possession of the horses, but what are they supposed to do with 80 rogue ponies? The horses do not have passports, therefore would be unappealing for sale, and Webb commented “there’s only one place they’d end up, and that’s not fair on them.”
The society has already alerted their Facebook following that the 2019 county show will be forced to cancel unless this situation is resolved quickly. This has caused a great stir, with many patrons of the event offering to do all that they can to help, and begging for the show not to be cancelled. At present, support is being gathered and attention is being drawn to the issue, largely through social media coverage, however unless drastic action is taken very soon, things aren’t looking good for the future of the showground or the show itself.
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