A DISTRESSED horse rider says she feared for the safety of her pregnant mare after a large pack of hunting hounds found their way into a livery yard.

Ella Couchman, 21, was looking after her five horses on a section of farmland positioned behind The Sheltons, in Kirby Cross, at about noon on Wednesday.

All of sudden as many as 20 dogs are reported to have darted into the field after chasing a trio of foxes over a fence – which was also damaged as a result.

Fox hunts are illegal and hounds now follow pre-laid scents, but the hounds changed route when they saw the foxes.


Ella said the pack of dogs made her pregnant mare Bella, who is two months away from giving birth, stressed and agitated.

Her nine-month-old foal, Charlie, also fled into a section of the yard occupied by bigger horses who could have easily hurt him. 

“They had no control of their dogs and they also broke the fencing when chasing the foxes,” added Ella. 

“It was stressful and upsetting to watch my horses be in that situation and I then had to spend the day with my horses and try to calm them down.

“I was worried my foal was going to get colic as he started to show signs and I was worried my mare would get too stressed and cause problems for her baby.

“If I was at work there’s a chance my foal could have been seriously injured as he got in with the the older boys who would hurt him - that’s why the horses are not altogether.

“I called the police and they attempted to intervene – the foxes managed to get away on this occasion.” 

The latest reported incident comes just two weeks after a horse in Wormingford had to be put down after dogs raced on to private land, causing it to bolt and break its leg.


Ella said: “Personally, I do not like fox hunting, I think it’s awful and obviously it is illegal, so it shouldn’t be happening.”

Gillie Cranfield was Essex and Suffolk Hunt’s master in charge on the day of the Kirby Cross incident.

She said: “I have been in contact with the horse owner and apologised for the very unfortunate incident and to check her horses are OK.  

“I have also ensured her this will not happen again and we will warn her of any future trail hunts in the coming years.  

“We are also arranging to replace the fencing.”

A spokeswoman for Essex Police has since confirmed the force was called about the incident.

She said: "On Wednesday we received a report regarding an allegation of criminal damage to a fence at Kirby Cross, that happened at 12 noon.

"Our investigation continues."