What to do when there's horses on the loose along a P.E.I. highway

·3 min read

Some P.E.I. motorists recently caught a band of equine escapees fleeing down the Trans-Canada Highway.

Melissa Peter-Paul was among those who witnessed four horses out for a trot across an overpass in the Cornwall-Clyde River area on March 17 – without anyone riding them. Most motorists were stopped as the horses casually passed by, the one in the lead almost seeming to look directly at Peter-Paul's camera as she recorded the scene.

"Oh, you know, just horses goin' up the highway," she said in a video posted on Twitter.com at about 6:30 p.m.

Some Twitter users who responded to the post were hopeful that the horses were found safely – some joked it was just another evening on P.E.I.

Horses on the highway in Cornwall! If anyone is missing them. Lol pic.twitter.com/NejOd6XvdG— Melissa Peter-Paul (@MelPeterPaul)

Brian MacPhee, another horse owner in the area, followed the horses in his truck and helped to calm them down and ensure they remained safe. There were no lassos involved, he said jokingly.

"I think once they got close to home, they probably knew where they were going."

He was contacted about the horses and feared they were his at first – he rushed to his barn to confirm they weren't just as he saw the escaped horses trotting into view. Overall, they hadn't traveled too far from their home, so the actual owner soon located them, he said.

MacPhee's has had horses escape his property before. It can happen for a variety of reasons and can often turn into an unintended public spectacle.

"It's more embarrassing than anything to know that your horses escaped," he said. "(And) it's not something you want to see happen because it's dangerous. It's scary for a horse and it's scary for someone that's driving a car down the road."

The scared horses aren't likely to stop for fast-moving vehicles or strangers in these situations, so MacPhee recommends motorists slow down if possible. If it’s safe, finding a way to direct the horses off of the road into a field and then calling the police can be a good course of action, he said.

Cpl. Mike Lutley with the Queens District RCMP said this isn't the first time he has received a call like this on P.E.I.

"It's quite a common occurrence, believe it or not."

Police are often called when livestock such as horses or cows temporarily break out from their barns or fields, but by the time they arrive on the scene the situation is usually resolved, he said.

"(This) owner had arrived at the same time we did, corralled them up and took them home."

In this case, all four horses were recovered and returned home safely – there were no other incidents caused by the ordeal, Lutley said.

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Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian