Inflatable T-Rex costumes have become a viral trend over the last year or so. If you haven’t actually encountered one in real life, you’ve likely seen them on the internet, dancing, ice skating, and doing their taxes. They have even been spotted riding horses.
For humans with social media access, these dinos are a reliable source of amusement. But for horses who haven’t been desensitized to such creatures, those fake dinosaurs might as well be actual terrible lizards.
Last week, a pair of carriage horses were spooked by a person in a T-Rex costume in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The horses backed up and hit a parked vehicle, causing the carriage to jackknife. The driver of the carriage, Van Sturgeon, lost his balance in the incident and fell out of the carriage. Witnesses say the carriage rolled over him, breaking a bone in his foot. The person in the costume left the scene before police arrived, but has since turned herself in to local police and has been identified as Nicole Wells.
The passengers and the horses were uninjured.
The police report from the scene states that the person in the costume turned toward the horses as they approached and growled at them, seemingly with an intent to scare them, and ignored the driver when he yelled at her to “get out of here.” Palmetto Carriage Works, the operator of the carriage, was quick to blame “radical animal rights activists” for orchestrating the incident, though they provided no evidence for the accusation.
It seems that Wells might have been just as surprised to see the horses as they were to see her. Several witnesses at the scene told local news that they didn’t hear the costumed person growling and that the situation appeared to be completely unintentional, describing it as “a freak accident.” One witness who spoke to Wells during the incident said she froze when the horses reacted to her, because she didn’t want to further spook them.
Nevertheless, Wells is facing charges of disorderly conduct and “wearing a mask or disguise,” which is a crime in South Carolina.
As for the horses, Yogi and Boo Boo, driver Sturgeon had nothing but praise for how they handled the bizarre incident.
“Perhaps she did not realize what a threat that appeared to be to my animals, but they responded remarkably well,” Sturgeon said in a statement to the press. “Any animal, you included, are entitled to your flight response, the key is how quickly do you come back under control. If I throw a snake on you and you jump, you’re entitled to that, but if you can come back and get in control really quickly, that’s the key to emotional control and both of the animals demonstrated that.”
The horses are reported to be doing just fine.
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com