GRAPHIC: Owner calls for firework ban after horse is ‘spooked’ and hit by car

A DEVASTATED horse owner is campaigning for a ban on private firework displays after her 18-month old pony was killed when he was ‘spooked’ by explosions and hit by a car. Archer became terrified by continual loud bangs and flashes and leapt out of his field before running head-on into a car, which was also written off in the tragic accident. By the time Claire Willard arrived at the scene her young New Forest pony had left a ‘pool of blood’ on the country road and been loaded onto a flatbed truck to be removed.

Now Ms Willard, from Southampton, Hants, is campaigning for fireworks to be restricted to licensed events instead of ‘backyard’ displays. GRAPHIC PICTURE WARNING She posted distressing photos of her dead pony online as part of the campaign, which also focuses on getting the maximum noise levels of fireworks reduced.

The 47 year old asks whether the ‘five minutes’ of ‘whizzes and bangs’ were worth the life of her beloved pony which she had bought to ‘accompany me into old age’ and which stood little more than 12 hands high. A distraught Ms Willard, who works as a warehouse store manager, told of her horror at received a call to tell her of the accident in nearby Marchwood, in Hampshire’s New Forest.

She said: “Archer and his field buddy Harry were in the field in Marchwood. “He was only a baby at 18 months old and was going to spend the winter being a baby with Harry before coming to live with me and my ponies in Hamble. “I had known him since he was a foal but didn’t actually buy him until earlier this year.

GRAPHIC: Owner calls for firework ban after horse is 'spooked' and hit by car “He was supposed to be my last pony; the pony who accompanied me into my old age. “He was so loveable and such a cheeky mischievous little character that he was easy to fall in love with.

“[On the night he died], a friend saw a post in local community group showing Archer by the field gate, still alive. “A driver had stopped and was doing his best to contact police and us owners as well as trying to warn other traffic to slow down. “Unfortunately my little black cute dude got so spooked by the fireworks he jumped out of the field.

“The driver who had stopped had put his hazards on and was trying to calm Archer. “Another car came past, overtaking the car with its hazards on, and at the same time another firework went off scaring Archer right into the path of the car. “He was hit head first and the car was a write off, and the driver suffered minor injuries.

“By the time I got there they had already contacted a local farmer to move Archer’s body as it was blocking the road. “So I got to see my pony, lifted onto a flatbed trailer. He left a pool of blood on the road.”

GRAPHIC: Owner calls for firework ban after horse is 'spooked' and hit by car Ms Willard is now encouraging people to sign a petition to tighten restrictions on fireworks and firework displays. She added: “Is it really worth it?

Are five minutes of whizzes, flashes and bangs worth what we are all going to think about for many years to come? “I would just like people to stop and think. It’s not just horses that are affected but dogs and cats and even wildlife too, and even ex-service people with PTSD, people with autism and other conditions that cause noise sensitivity.

“If you really can’t go without fireworks then buy the low noise ones or go to organised events. “Fireworks may be fun for the five minutes you are watching them, but will you remember them in say five years time? Probably not.

“I don’t normally take photos when they are taken away but i wanted to show people just how horrible it is. “As horse owners we can’t just wrap them in a blanket and put them in a car – special equipment is required. “Dealing with that, alongside losing your pony, is just horrible.”

Ms Willard has also set up an Archer’s Legacy page on Facebook, aiming at campaigning ‘against the sale of domestic fireworks’.

Visit the petition by clicking here.