Three Injured in Skijoring Race in Durango After Low-Flying Drone Spooks Competing Horse

Posted by Paige Cerulli
skijoring
All images via Durango Herald

A drone spooked a horse during a skijoring race, resulting in serious injuries to bystanders.

Three spectators were injured during a skijoring race when a drone flew over the start area, spooking a horse. The event occurred at the 8th Annual Skijoring Race in Silverton, Colorado, and resulted in two women being transported to a hospital by ambulance and one man needing on-site medical assistance.

The horse, rider, and skier were preparing to leave the start line when a low-flying drone flew into the area. The horse was clearly agitated, and its handler, Tim McArthy, yelled and waved at the drone, gesturing for it to move away.

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The horse spooked and, instead of traveling out onto the course, veered off to the left and traveled into the area where about 10 people were standing to watch. Several people were knocked over by the horse, and one woman suffered a gash to the back of the head. A second woman suffered a hip injury. Both women were transported to the hospital, while a man who suffered a bloody chin was treated at the scene.

The event was stopped for 40 minutes to tend to the injured. The drone operator will be issued a citation, and people will no longer be allowed to watch from the starting area, which lacks the barriers that are positioned further up the course.

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The incidence is an eye-opening reminder about what can happen when horses and drones don't mix well. Horses are prey animals by nature, and in the wild, their main defense against a predator is to flee. Drones, especially low-flying drones, are often a foreign sight to horses, and can easily evoke a fear response. No matter how well-trained a horse is, when primal fear takes over, there is little a rider or handler can do to contain or control the horse during that initial fear response.

As drones have evolved and become more popular, more rules governing their use have also emerged. It is likely that we'll see some rules regarding drone use around animals in the future.

Have you seen a skijoring race? Let us know in the comments below.

All images via Durango Herald

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Three Injured in Skijoring Race in Durango After Low-Flying Drone Spooks Competing Horse