Midnight Ramblers - raging rant !

AdorableAlice

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Arrive at my yard for the final put to bed at 8.30pm last night and find a strangers car on the hard standing outside. A nice gentleman tells me a group of children, (they turned out to be Scouts and Brownies all looked under 14) were doing a midnight ramble. The nice gentleman was to man the lane crossing were a public footpath crosses from my neighbours wheat field onto my grazing land. The path then runs through one big field with cows in and 2 small paddocks and between the cattle shed and rear of a block of 6 boxes.

I was told there were 150 children coming in groups of 20 ish. Bear in mind it is now dark, wet, cold, windy and in the middle of nowhere.

It's a well known and popular path which doesn't cause any problems normally, we tend to see the same people using it through the summer and it is less used in winter.

I thought it best to put the cows/calves and the bull in the shed and put the light on which gave some light onto the stile the walkers would have to use.

In the smaller paddock I had a mare and her weaned foal/yearling which I intended to catch. Unfortunately the first group of children got into the paddocks before I could catch them and all hell let loose. 20 screaming kids in hi-vis jackets with head torches, the children were spread out in a train and some got in front of the yearling and some behind, the mare panicked and shot off in the opposite direction to the yearling. The adult walker at the front of the train opened the gate onto my neighbours land and the yearling went for the gate, the big mare turned and galloped after the yearling scattering the children ................and I went fecking ballistic !!!!......and to add insult to injury my stabled horses had all lost the plot and were spinning like tops in their boxes.

The next group of children had yet to arrive so I caught the totally distressed mare and yearling and got them inside. The yearling settled immediately but the mare who is a very placid cob normally had lost the plot, she was terrified, panting, sweating and shaking.

Another 8 groups crossed the paddocks in the space of 2 hours, the horses could hear them coming from miles away, I had no idea sound could travel so well in the dark and when they reached my yard the horses could see the head torches which drove the horses potty. Even the cattle started charging around the shed making lots of noise.

The organisers did apologise and it is a public footpath so anyone can go on it at any time and there is nothing I can do about it or complain to.

It took ages for the stock to calm down and in the mare's case cool down, thankfully she is not in foal this year. I was incensed last night and cannot imagine what pleasure all these young children got from wallking 12 miles on a cold windy night in pitch black very wet fields.

What on earth would I be facing if that mare had trampled a child, it does not bear thinking about.
 

Ceris Comet

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Very irresponsible. They should have contacted you to warn you before last night. We have a rally passing through once a year at night and the organisers call us about a month before.
 

zaminda

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My Mum runs her local cub pack, and I very much doubt if she would get away with doing this. Health and safety insists you consider what could happen. Surely, knowing there is livestock on the path, it would be considered too risky? Consideringsome of the court cases recently, which have been thrown out as people who get on horses understand the risks, it would go that people who run around upsetting flight horses in the dark might get trampled.
 

Sugarplum Furry

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Crikey! That would be my first thought too, what would happen if a child had got injured? What on earth were the organisers thinking? They could at least have warned you they were coming. I'd be having words with the leaders today if I were you.

I've been having a similar problem, the local school has been using the woods right next to my field for woodcraft/outdoor survival type lessons. Not only do the kids run riot through the woods but they put these big shiny flappy shelter type things. My little herd of four have been in absolute disrepair galloping round and round the field, sliding about everywhere and stressed out of their minds. I now have 2 of them lame as can be with swollen tendons as a direct result. Aaaaargh!!!!!!
 

devilwoman

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I know that feeling only too well, I used to livery at a yard where we had a public footpath right through the middle, we had ramblers, children, general walkers etc, and sometimes would have them at night, if the horses were out it was always a nightmare, as you mentioned the torches seem to frighten the life out of them, in our field of approx 40 acres, we would have mixed herds of anything up to 25 horses, not very safe when they are all gallopping in a mad frenzy and afraid.

In your case it was very irresponsible of the organisers, maybe a call to them to ask for prior notice in future when something like this is going to happen.
 

Paris1

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This hapened un daylight to me. They need to stick to the footpath which is not that wide! Single file forty children!!!
 

debsg

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I would contact your local Scout/Guide association, find out who organised the walk and then let them know exactly how it affected your horses and cattle. They are usually pretty considerate and also safety conscious (a close friend of mine is a scout leader) so I don't know what went wrong there, but the consequences could have been dire for your horses and possibly a few kids, had they been run down! They need to know that this is not acceptable. Prior notice, as a courtesy, should have been given and advice sought on how best to walk through without unduly upsetting the animals.
Hope your poor beasties settle soon after their fright :)
 

Dave282B

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Hi AA
Contact them and ask to see a copy of their Risk Assesment from last night and how they are going to amend it after the Near Miss they had.
If you can't find them write to the Scouts HQ and get them to investigate for you .
You can't stop them using the path but hopefully the paperwork will either put them off or make them have the courtesy to let you know before hand.
 

Marydoll

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Hi AA
Contact them and ask to see a copy of their Risk Assesment from last night and how they are going to amend it after the Near Miss they had.
If you can't find them write to the Scouts HQ and get them to investigate for you .
You can't stop them using the path but hopefully the paperwork will either put them off or make them have the courtesy to let you know before hand.
I agree with this, it was a very near miss and im pretty sure needs investigated with definitive action taken to ensure it doesnt happen again.
Im pretty sure a large organisation like this should have procedures in place.
It looks like theyve tried to RA with the use of torches, hi viz etc but never looked at their impact on the environment and their neighbours which they should have, especially at that time of night
 

mashnut

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I ran Brownies for 7 years. This would NEVER have passed my risk assessments. Contact Girlguiding HQ in London or the Scout HQ. Sod local level cos they are sometimes a touch useless about dealing with things like that. To get that many of the 2 organisations together they would have been planning this for some time, why you couldn't have gotten notice sooner I don't know.
That was distressing to the animals and you should have had far more notice. Besides the fact that the kids should also have been warned about animals too. The parents would have been raging if they found out (the parents I had would have been anyway).
I'll PM you contact details if you want.
 

indie999

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I agree with this, it was a very near miss and im pretty sure needs investigated with definitive action taken to ensure it doesnt happen again.
Im pretty sure a large organisation like this should have procedures in place.
It looks like theyve tried to RA with the use of torches, hi viz etc but never looked at their impact on the environment and their neighbours which they should have, especially at that time of night
hi Havent read all the posts but we have a guides headquarters near us that run Duke of Edinburgh etc this in the day time is never a problem but if they are doing an evening or night ramble they always ask our parish council for permission to let everyone know and its usually weeks or months in advance with a date booked in.Another clue is they have marshalls and mark the route out with ie white ribbon or a marker so everyone knows where they are going in the dark!!

Very dangerous and irresponsible. Cattle could be worse than horses even with someone or an animal being injured or killed. Crazy. Complain and report it.
 

AdorableAlice

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Thank you for the guidance I will be following it up on Monday.

My horses had a disturbed night, hay left and beds trashed. Just put out 3 including the mare and yearling. The trip over to the field I am using today was more like flying 2 kites. They were on tip toes, very nervous and anxious and then, once free, set off like whirling dervishes.

Have just spoken to another yard owner, whose land is not crossed by the path, but her horses can see the path, she found her 6 horses had been galloping in the night and were generally 'disturbed' this morning. I told her what had happened so at least she has an idea of why the horses are out of normal behaviour.

Many thanks to you all.
 

Honey08

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I'm not meaning to be rude, but I can't understand the fuss here. Fuss is probably not the right work.:eek:

Why would it not pass a risk assessment if the kids have head torches and the road crossings are manned? Our local scouts do things like that all the time, as do many of the groups that stay at the centre next door to us. We have an outdoor pursuit centre right next to our house and stables, and they run about screaming half the night. Our horses and the farm animals around the valley have never bothered at all. As we speak there are ten orange tents in the next field! The only ones that have ever bothered them, and even then it wasn't much, was the brass band camp!

I think that when you have footpaths running through your fields you have to be aware of what you turn out. I ended up fencing half my footpaths off from the main fields just to make sure that the horses can't get near all the kids trekking about. I was more worried about the two nosy youngsters fighting for the kid's attention..

I am really sorry for the trauma that your horses were put through. I bet they won't use your path next time, and would contact you if they did! I would think they had as big a scare as your horses!
 

ester

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I think it is human nature to not like the unexpected though, we like to be prepared for things so can see why the OP is less than happy.

I do also think it is different having an outdoor pursuits centre very near by where the horses are likely to become accustomed to strange goings on than a one off event such as this where the horses are used to seeing noone and nobody.
 

Pearlsasinger

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IMO the worst aspect of this is the risk that the Guides and Brownies were put at.
The children should have been taught to walk quietly at the side of the footpath. Have these Scout leaders not heard of the walkers who have been killed whilst walking through fields of cattle in daylight?
As others have said OP should contact Scout and Guide HQ to express your concerns, rather than to complain. I would not dwell on the upset to your stock, other than to explain how dangerous this could have made them, and to say that in order to minimise the risk to the children, you need enough notice to remove your stock in future.
 

Marydoll

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I'm not meaning to be rude, but I can't understand the fuss here. Fuss is probably not the right work.:eek:

Why would it not pass a risk assessment if the kids have head torches and the road crossings are manned? Our local scouts do things like that all the time, as do many of the groups that stay at the centre next door to us. We have an outdoor pursuit centre right next to our house and stables, and they run about screaming half the night. Our horses and the farm animals around the valley have never bothered at all. As we speak there are ten orange tents in the next field! The only ones that have ever bothered them, and even then it wasn't much, was the brass band camp!

I think that when you have footpaths running through your fields you have to be aware of what you turn out. I ended up fencing half my footpaths off from the main fields just to make sure that the horses can't get near all the kids trekking about. I was more worried about the two nosy youngsters fighting for the kid's attention..

I am really sorry for the trauma that your horses were put through. I bet they won't use your path next time, and would contact you if they did! I would think they had as big a scare as your horses!
I would think the responsibility lies with the rambler to look and see whats in the fields they plan to walk through, and assess if its safe to do so
 

Pearlsasinger

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I have taken groups of schoolchildren to our local outdoor education centre, which is very close to a village, for overnight visits. The centre always instructs us to ensure that the neighbours are not disturbed.
I would have thought that all organisations would be concerned about their public image.
 

Honey08

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I would think the responsibility lies with the rambler to look and see whats in the fields they plan to walk through, and assess if its safe to do so
No - legally it falls to the landowner actually. You have to have insurance nowadays for your footpaths - even a tree falling can come down to the landowner.. If people can't walk across footpaths with animals in, nobody would get anywhere!

The outdoor pursuits centre by us is small, and not that busy, and there was a time when the horses had never seen a tent etc. You can't prevent everything. You have to expect the unexpected... I notice that, around us, the thing that starts the children running and screaming, is their fright at the horses/animals moving towards them. (Even behind the footpath fence.. I notice this more with the two labs - a lot of the kids visiting the centre near us are asian, and terrified of dogs - even the friendly labs we have. They will run and scream as soon as they see them. I would prefer it if they didn't let the kids cross the footpaths alone - they are doing nature trails - but its something I've had to get used to!)
 

Marydoll

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No - legally it falls to the landowner actually. You have to have insurance nowadays for your footpaths - even a tree falling can come down to the landowner.. If people can't walk across footpaths with animals in, nobody would get anywhere!

The outdoor pursuits centre by us is small, and not that busy, and there was a time when the horses had never seen a tent etc. You can't prevent everything. You have to expect the unexpected... I notice that, around us, the thing that starts the children running and screaming, is their fright at the horses/animals moving towards them. (Even behind the footpath fence.. I notice this more with the two labs - a lot of the kids visiting the centre near us are asian, and terrified of dogs - even the friendly labs we have. They will run and scream as soon as they see them. I would prefer it if they didn't let the kids cross the footpaths alone - they are doing nature trails - but its something I've had to get used to!)
From the description of the event by the op, it was organised chaos that put kids and adults at risk, had anyone been injured by the op's worried livestock, i find it difficult to believe anyone would hold her accountable, if that is the case, the law is indeed an ass
 

AdorableAlice

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I agree with you. If my stock experienced this type of thing on a regular basis they would have slept through it all.

They got upset because it was something different, late at night and very noisy. Young children screaming is a disturbing sound. Personally I think the organisers have a duty of care to the landowners whose land is being crossed.

One of the organisers actually said to me, 'most of these children have never seen a field until tonight'.

I hope they all enjoyed their pitch black, wet, cold night walk and I hope my charging mare didn't frighten them too much. My beef bull was behind the gate and they all screamed when they saw him.

Risk assessment or no risk assessment I still think the whole exercise was questionable in terms of safety for the children and the landowners. As I have said originally the path is a well used and quite famous route, my stock do not lift their heads when walkers come through in daylight, but in the dark, with lots of noise, screaming shouting, cars in the lane and head torches it all caused mayhem.

Had my mare hit a child on a public footpath in the dark last night just where would I be standing today, that is something that is troubling me greatly at the moment.

The beef bull is legally on the field with the footpath, although I chose to remove him last night, he has his wives and calves with him. I need not have put them all in the sheds last night, it cost a round bale of hay. They would not have looked up at the kids had it been light, in the dark it could easily of been a different story.
 

ester

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no you can't prevent everything, random things will always occur sometimes! But, you can make things a lot less stressful for all involved, animals, organisers, kids etc with a bit of prior notice when things are actually planned in advance though.

We have a couple of fun rides locally that are run around the local bridleways, noone would technically need informing but it is polite, and sensible to do so imo :).
 

Marydoll

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no you can't prevent everything, random things will always occur sometimes! But, you can make things a lot less stressful for all involved, animals, organisers, kids etc with a bit of prior notice when things are actually planned in advance though.

We have a couple of fun rides locally that are run around the local bridleways, noone would technically need informing but it is polite, and sensible to do so imo :).
Agree with this
 

ponypilotmum

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I find it hard to believe that any children involved in guiding would not have seen a field before - it's 3/4 of what brownies / guides / scouts do.

Do you realise these organisers are not paid a penny for their hard work? The work they do locally is fantastic.

If your stock cannot cope with noise on the footpath at any time of day / night you need to re think your fencing.

You could also offer to go into the local groups and give talks about the country code for their 'out and about' badges.

Breach of the peace indeed..... you could always have the lot of them arrested for it :rolleyes:
 

SusieT

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Public footpath. So anyone can be on it. Maybe you should tape the mare and yearling away from the path if you don't want them stressd by passers by. The children would still have made noise etc. whether they had 'warned' you or not, just deal?
 

SusieT

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If you have stock that you think could harm ramblers at night (anyone can use the footpatha t any time of day) you need to fence the field off or put them in a different field-your responsibility.
 

WandaMare

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I rang the council after my horses were terrifed by a bunch of hashers? or is it mashers? or something, anyway people who run / walk over the country side then meet at a pub and socialise. Nice enough lot of people but they appeared one evening at 8.30 ish all wearing high viz and marched over our fields, straying widely widely off the footpath straight towards my horses. The horses were terrified especially as some of them were running towards them, and went into a blind panic. I went out to catch them and ended up having to put myself in danger of getting hurt just to ensure none of their dogs or children got trampled.

The council told me that although it is a public footpath, where it is being used for an organised event, the organisers do have a duty of care to advise landowners. I think there was a maximum number of people that can join in a fun run / walk etc. without having to notify affected parties. I complained to the organiser of the run in a polite way, just explaining the shock to my animals and the potential danger to the children involved and sadly they were very defensive and quite unpleasant about the whole thing. The council however contacted them on my behalf and i haven't seen them using the same footpath again. I don't think its asking too much of these groups to give people a bit of warning then we can at least move the horses into stables or into another paddock for everyone's safefy.
 
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