Northern Ireland

Sulky cart racing 'extremely dangerous,' says councillor following horrifying incident in north Belfast

Sulky carts pulled by horses are an “extremely dangerous” sport, a local representative has said following a horrifying incident that caused chaos in north Belfast last weekend.

A teenager escaped with a caution after the two-wheeled vehicle was driven erratically along the Antrim Road near Glengormley and towards Belfast city centre.

Footage showed the horse and cart, but without the 16-year-old driver, galloping in panic on the road and footpaths.

The horse collided with a car, violently clambering over the top, still attached to the cart. The severely injured animal was discovered farther down the road and had to be put down.

“It was absolutely terrifying for the horse but also motorists and other people on the road,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Goodman.

“I appreciate that it is part of some people’s culture but it is an extremely dangerous sport on roads, particularly one like the Antrim Road.”

Police and animal welfare officers are continuing to investigate, including the home of the horse.

“The council is currently liaising with the PSNI in relation to an incident involving a horse in the Antrim Road area of Glengormley on Saturday 14 January,” a council spokesperson said.

“As this is a live investigation the council cannot comment any further on this matter.”

Police said a 16-year-old was cautioned for failure to stop, failure to remain at the scene of a road traffic collision and being in charge of a horse drawn vehicle without due care.

A video show the horse and sulky driver losing control and veering onto the footpath
A video show the horse and sulky driver losing control and veering onto the footpath A video show the horse and sulky driver losing control and veering onto the footpath

Ethel and Jim Patton were in the car that collided with the horse and cart. The front window of the vehicle was smashed and part of the roof caved in the collision.

"We were very lucky. Jim has a cut to the bridge of his nose and I have a cut on my finger, but it could have been much worse, especially with the glass over use from the windscreen smashing," Mrs Patton said.

"Apparently the horse landed further up the road and was lying in agony, but I couldn't bring myself to look anywhere near it. A vet came and euthanised it."

While it is not clear how the teenager ended up on the Antrim Road, sulky cart road racing is more prevalent in the south than the north and is often associated with the Travelling community.

But Geoff Power, who helped make Ireland's Sulky Racers for RTE, told the Irish Examiner: "Most people contend it is exclusive to Travellers, but Ireland’s sulky racers disproves that. About half of those involved in road racing are from a settled background."

Footage has emerged of a road race on the M3 in Republic over the weekend, which Interim Justice Minister Simon Harris described as an "horrific abuse of animals and major danger to motorists.”

The footage led an animal welfare group saying at least one horse was “being whipped aggressively” throughout the race in early hours of the morning.

Three helmet-wearing riders are seen driving the horses on the motorway, with vehicles at the back, side and front protecting the 'race' from other traffic.