Police are warning farmers, land owners and walkers to check gates are locked after a horse escaped and died in a crash on a major Devon road.
The tragedy began after motorists reported five horses walking on the A380 around Ideford at 8:50pm on Monday.
At 8:54pm one of the horses collided with a grey Peugeot 307 being driven by woman from Paignton.
The horse was killed in the crash on the Torquay-bound carriageway.
In a lucky escape the female driver of the car suffered only minor injuries.
Police closed both lanes of the carriageway around Ideford and at the Ashcombe junction at 9am.
Motorists and a local farmer came to the rescue and helped round-up the other four horses, which were secured and taken away.
Two Exeter-based fire crews, from Danes Castle and Middlemoor, made the car safe and helped police.
The dead horse was taken away by the farmer, who police say was not responsible for the horses, and the road was reopened at 11:15pm.
The crash is one of many examples of horses, and farmland animals, escaping and running onto public roads, say police.
PC Ryan Canning in Plymouth has been dealing with such incidents over the past few weeks and says it's a common problem at this time of the year.
"The hedges and vegetation are less dense during the winter months, which means horses and sheep find it easier to escape.
"We have dealt with many escaped animals across the force area within the past few weeks.
"The incident on the A380 last night was very sad but could have been far, far worse. Hitting an animal of that size in a vehicle is highly likely to kill a motorist."
The police are reminding, not just farmers, but also walkers of the devastating consequences an escaped animal can have.
"We would like to appeal to horse and sheep owners and footpath walkers, for the sake of the animals and the safety of the public, to ensure gates and padlocks are secure and fencing is well maintained.
On February 14 police were called to a report of four horses running in the road toward the Tesco supermarket in Roborough, Plymouth.
It was the third sighting of horses which escaped in Plymouth during that week.
There were two separate sightings in Hay Road, Plymstock on February 15.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police said: "We are investigating how the horses came to escape and run onto the A380."
Police figures reveal a worrying number of privately owned horses, sheep and cows have escaped onto the region's roads within the past three weeks.
"More than 20 traffic related incidents involving animals, mostly horses, which have escaped onto our roads have been reported since the beginning of February in Devon and Cornwall," reports PC Ryan Canning.
However, police believe the true figure could be closer to 40, with many incidents not being reported.
The figures are for privately owned animals and do not include moorland ponies.