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HAPPA calls for drone awareness this Christmas

DATE

November 14, 2016

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As Santa prepares his Christmas deliveries this year, HAPPA is urging you to act responsibly especially if a Drone is on your wish list or you are intending to buy a drone as a gift.
Drones are expected to trend this season amid rising safety concerns, particularly for horse owners/riders. As sales of the small unmanned aircrafts soar, reported incidents are on the increase. In irresponsible hands, drones are potentially accidents waiting to happen.
At the moment, there is nothing to stop anyone from buying a drone and taking it out flying, as long as the drone weighs less than 20kg and is not being used for commercial reasons. When you fly a drone in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe so please use your common sense and fly safely; you could be prosecuted if you don’t.
Horses are flight animals and are naturally spooked by the unknown; a horse will react when exposed to something that it fears. A drone could easily cause a horse to panic and bolt out of control and the results could be catastrophic for the horse or rider sitting on top.
In October 2015, Fimber, an 11yr old Police Horse belonging to West Yorkshire Police, is believed to have been startled by a radio controlled drone, subsequently he had to be put to sleep after attempting to jump out of the paddock impaling himself on a wooden post in the process.
HAPPA can’t stress the dangers enough and hope that people will have the sense to operate them in areas that are free from horses happily grazing in fields or hacking round the countryside. The drones are not toys and have the potential to cause serious damage. We don’t want to prevent people from appreciating their new gift and having fun; just act responsibly before you fly. Please think of the consequences and don’t endanger our equine friends or other livestock by putting them at risk.
Horse riders be aware of a possible encounter with a drone when out riding, familiarise yourself how to recognise the sound of one and know how your horse would react and please stay safe whilst out hacking.
Horse accidents, including incidents concerning drones, are being logged by the BHS, if you are out riding and your horse is spooked by a drone, or indeed any other encounter; please report it to the BHS on their website www.horseaccidents.org.uk
For more information on drones and how to operate responsibly, visit ‘Be Safe Be Legal’ www.caa.co.uk/droneaware. Remember you are responsible for your drone and could face criminal charges if found to be liable. Also it may be wise for flyers to check their household insurance to see if cover extends to flying a drone in a public place. HAPPA also endorses that Third Party Public Liability Insurance is an absolute must have for all horse owners/riders.

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