Travellers’ horses run amok in St Albans church car park

Smallford pit at Colney Heath, where the travellers' horse have been grazing

Smallford pit at Colney Heath, where the travellers' horse have been grazing - Credit: Debbie White/Archant

Travellers’ horses escaped from fields in St Albans at the weekend, frightening churchgoers and raising further concerns about the animals’ welfare.

Police were called after several horses entered the car park at City Church, Lyon Way, on Sunday.

Some churchgoers were scared by their presence, as they appeared to be spooked and people were worried they might charge at them.

Officers from Herts Police arrived quickly at the church and returned the horses to a nearby field.

But a local horse rider told the Herts Advertiser that she and others in the area were concerned about the horses, as they were constantly escaping fields at the 52-hectare Smallford pit between Colney Heath Lane and Smallford Lane in Smallford.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said the herd of about 20 horses was being grazed by travellers at the rural location – formerly gravel pits.

But the animals were escaping at least once a week, and a motorist had reportedly recently collided with a horse wandering along a nearby road.

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The rider added: “We don’t like to see horses suffering, and if we did see any suffering, we would report it to the RSPCA.

“They are wandering about, and last week alone the police attended them twice after they escaped.”

She and other riders are concerned the horses might cause serious injuries on busy neighbouring roads, including the longabout at Colney Heath.

A spokesman for Herts Police said members of the Rural Operational Support Team (ROST) which specialises in crimes concerning rural and agricultural issues and wildlife, regularly checked the travellers’ horses alongside the RSPCA.

He added: “Officers said the horses were really tame and approachable.”