© Guardian photo
Yogi Fell, who runs Handibear Hills Horse Sanctuary, stands with some of her 18 horses. She said three horses were out Saturday when they heard loud noises that sounded like gunshots nearby which spooked the horses.
SOUTH GRANVILLE The woman who runs a horse sanctuary in South Granville that had three animals spooked by loud noises on the weekend says she doesn't think it was an accident.
Yogi Fell, who runs Handibear Hills Horse Sanctuary, said three horses were out Saturday when they heard loud noises that sounded like gunshots nearby.
The noises spooked the horses, included one that Fell said stumbled, dropped to its knees and threw its rider.
"It's kind of scary," she said.
It all happened on McCourt Road, which is a dirt heritage road near the sanctuary.
None of the riders were seriously hurt, but Fell said the one who was thrown was badly bruised after getting trampled.
Fell said at that point the riders initially thought the horse had been shot.
As they tried to get the horses under control, Fell said one of the riders saw a grey or silver vehicle with a hatch back and roof rack driving away.
Handibear Hills Horse Sanctuary rescues abandoned horses and uses them to teach horsemanship and stable management.
The riders who were out Saturday were accomplished and the horses were experienced with being around noise, such as in parades, so it wasn't like they were prone to spooking, Fell said.
"This was extremely close."
Fell said the riders know what gunshots sound like because the horse sanctuary is near a shooting range.
The sounds the riders heard were much closer than the range, Fell said.
"They were bang, bang, bang."
As for whoever caused the noises, they didn't stop to check on any of the riders, which Fell said someone would have done if it was accidental.
"We really feel that it was intentional."
Fell said people often ride the horses in the same area and she put up signs at the ends of the roads warning people that horses and children could be around.
With the horses and riders back safe, Fell said the matter is in the hands of police and conservation officers.
The RCMP are asking anyone who has any information about the incident to contact them.