ORONO — A celebration of the town’s 175th anniversary turned into a nightmare for one Orono horse farm owner when a flypast by Canadian Forces CF-18 fighter jets on Saturday afternoon caused havoc with her horses, killing one and injuring four others.br /“I had just finished a lesson with a student, another student was driving her horse when the first plane came over,” said Catherine Sampson, who with her husband owns the Trillium Morgan Horse Farm. “We weren’t sure exactly what it was at first, but they flew right over our west pasture where most of our young horses were pastured and right over our arena roof where the riders were.”br /The fighter jets were performing a manoeuvre as part of a three-day event held to celebrate the history of Orono. It was organized by the 175 Celebration Committee, a sub-committee of the Orono BIA.br /Ms. Sampson, who is seeking compensation from the committee and the military, said the jets flew just above tree level and “were very low and very loud.”br /The noise from the planes spooked the horses, causing them to panic trying to get back to the stable. In their attempt, several horses were injured when they pushed into a fence.br /“A young horse owned by one of my clients could not be salvaged,” she said. “We had two vets working very hard, about 20 people trying to stabilize these horses who had severe blood loss and numerous other problems but the youngest one couldn’t be saved at all so she was humanely destroyed.”br /Ms. Sampson’s personal horse — a thoroughbred mare worth $5,000 — was also critically injured and remains on “wait-and-see” status. Three other horses sustained minor injuries.br /Prior to the event, the municipality of Clarington issued a warning to local residents about a “low-altitude manoeuvre” by the fighter jets that would cause a period of loud noise for a short period of time. Residents were reminded to take any precautions they deemed necessary to protect both humans and animals from the noise.br /Jennifer Cooke of the Municipality’s communications and marketing office says she issued the warning on behalf of the 175 Celebration Committee which in turn had been asked to do so by the pilots of the fighter jets.br /But Ms. Sampson says a warning printed in the local paper is not adequate, especially for farmers who are very busy this time of year and may not have time to read the paper. And even if they had adequate warning, she says the military should know not to fly that low over agricultural land — spooking even those animals sitting in the safety of the stable.br /“It could have been prevented,” she said.br /Lieutenant Paul Finnemore, of Air Force public affairs, says it was a terrible tragedy.br /“Our intention, of course, in the military, is not to terrorize the citizenry and their animals. We serve to defend Canada and their interests,” he said.br /Should Ms. Sampson pursue compensation, Lieut. Finnemore said the government has a department to deal with it.br /“There is definitely a process,” he said. “And definitely in the past there has been payouts by different problems caused by the military and other government organizations as well. It’s handled on a case by case basis.”br /Clarington Mayor Jim Abernethy, who called Ms. Sampson this morning to offer his condolences, said the Municipality also has a process in place through which she can make a claim for compensation.br /Ms. Sampson said that while she does want to pursue compensation for the vet bills, she says her real goal is to stop this from happening again. br /“I wouldn’t want another farmer or horse owner to have to go through this tragedy that we went through,” she said. “Its very devastating to everybody, the children who worked with these horses in our lesson program, it’s very heartbreaking for everyone.”

Spread This Content