The owner of a horse shot by an arrow in a Belconnen paddock accessed by the public each day said she could not understand the actions of the unknown shooter.
Nicki Sneddon said she was shocked to find her horse with a carbon fibre arrow in its chest at the ACT Government Horse Paddock in Macgregor on Thursday afternoon.
“What are people doing shooting arrows around horses?” she said.
“Arrows can misfire and go in every direction … I don’t know if it was an accident, or if people even realised [they had hit the horse].”
The wound was superficial and Ms Sneddon said the horse, named Cariad, would make a full recovery.
“I can stick my finger into her [wound] about 5-7 millimetres,” she said.
“I could see the tip exposed. I knew, having some experience with arrows myself, that it wasn’t too serious.”
Ms Sneddon, 28, said the area was regularly used by people agisting their horses, or running or cycling on tracks surrounding the paddocks.
“My partner has two kids and they are often out there with me,” she said.
“Last night there was two to three babies out there [with parents] – it is every age group … you have anywhere from five to 25 people riding or feeding their horses.”
She said there were 60 agisted horses in two herds on the paddocks, some of which back on to homes in the expanding north-west suburb and are next to the Belconnen Pony Club.
Ms Sneddon said her horse was about 500-800 metres away from the closest backyards when she found her, and at least 500 metres from Parkwood Road.
Natasha Devoe from Territory Agistment, who manages the land, said she was concerned about the incident.
"People are encouraged to walk through the land," she said.
"It could have hit a person – we have a lot of young people walking through the paddock, catching their horses."
While dog attacks had occurred, she said it was the first time humans had harmed the horses.
Territory Agistment manager Ryan Walsh said the incident was “obviously very concerning” from a horse welfare point of view, but also endorsed Ms Sneddon’s views of the potential risk to people.
“It is a very popular area for people to walk and run and walk their dogs,” he said.
“Because of the number of horses there, there tends to be people in the area riding and feeding horses for a large part of the day.”
He said two herds were rotated through nine paddocks, with the horses now 200-300 metres from the closest homes. Some paddocks were only 50-80 metres from homes.
Ms Sneddon, a teacher, said the horse, which she has owned for 11 years, had received great support from the other horse owners.
“[She] was able to scam a million carrots last night, she is the smallest of the horses out there,” she said.
“Because the arrow was dirty we have to watch for infection, [but] she was fine.
“She’s a tough little cookie.”
Early last year, Territory and Municipal Services called for public assistance to catch those responsible for a spate of arrow attacks on kangaroos in Mount Ainslie.
ACT Policing has urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident or seen anything suspicious to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.act.crimestoppers.com.au.