top of page

1845: Rabid horse attacks boy

Last Sunday morning a labourer in the employ of Mr Hallett, a farmer at Cuckfield, took three horses from the stable, and turned them into the field. Shortly afterwards one of the animals began to evince symptoms of hydrophobia*, tearing up the earth, dashing wildly about the field, biting the other horses most fearfully, and gnawing the gateposts and rails, seizing the stones in the path with its teeth and throwing them into the air with great violence.

Whilst the fit was on, a boy accidentally passed through the field, and had a miraculous escape. He was attacked by the infuriated animal, and he may attribute his fortunate escape to his umbrella, which the horse seized with great violence, and tossed it into the air, and then bounded off, leaving the poor boy an opportunity of escape, of which he speedily availed himself. The fit was on him several hours, during which he lacerated himself in a shocking manner. At length he became exhausted, and dropped dead in the field. The other horses have since been destroyed.

* This was most probably rabies. The virus ravages a horse’s nervous system and there is no cure. Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any infectious disease.

Illustration: The art of taming and educating the horse, with details of management in the subjection of over forty representative vicious horses, and the story of the author's personal experience. 1886 by Magner, D. (Dennis) Wikimedia public domain image, subsequently enhanced.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

bottom of page