Police have moved to clear up confusion that followed a horse’s death after the Blackpool v Fleetwood Town match yesterday.
The force initially said the horse, called Morecambe, “came into contact with a metal pole” in Seasiders Way at around 5.20pm, leading to speculation online.
But a spokeswoman today told The Gazette the animal “slipped and fell against the metal barrier at the pedestrian crossing” in an accident that has left officers devastated.
The male officer riding Morecambe was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital after falling into the side of a horse box and is understood to be recovering well, though he remained in hospital this morning.
An emergency vet was called to Seasiders Way, but the horse died after suffering a fatal injury to his stomach.
Writing on Facebook, Dean Furness said he saw the accident happen. He said: “The horse lost its footing or a shoe and slipped straight into the pole causing the massive injury to the left hand side of its body.”
He said the officer riding Morecambe “did a brilliant job of getting it back to its horse transport box where sadly the horse went down against the side of the horse box, crushing the officer”.
Ch Insp Sue Bushell of Lancashire Police’s Mounted branch, said: “We are all completely devastated by the loss of Morecambe in such tragic circumstances.
“The horses are a big part of our police family and Morecambe will be sorely missed by his riders and many colleagues from across the force.
“Our thoughts remain with our injured colleague at this extremely difficult time.”
A routine ‘accident at work’ investigation is due to be carried out, the police spokeswoman added.
Lancashire Police’s Tactical Operations team said in a tweet Morecambe was “fatally injured in a tragic accident whilst reponding to reports of disorder in Blackpool”.
Animal rights campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said Morecambe’s death “should make us think long and hard about how vulnerable horses like him are, and what their lives are like”.
A spokesman said: “PETA calls on Lancashire authorities to investigate his death thoroughly so that similar incidents can be prevented – and, in light of the pain and suffering he and others have endured, to consider that it’s time for horses’ involuntary service to be put out to pasture.”