A GROUP of horses took a trip on the wild side as they caused mayhem in a busy city centre after breaking free from a field and taking a stroll around the streets.

They were first seen in Bishop Hall Lane, Chelmsford, stopping for a bite to eat in the bushes outside a sandwich shop.

They escaped at about 10:00am last Wednesday, but were safely rounded up later – although they took the opportunity to explore the city first.

The horses escaped from a field neighbouring the Anglian Ruskin University campus, on Bishop Hall Lane.

And staff took to the streets in an attempt to halt the escape effort, with bags of hay spotted dotted around Bishop Hall Lane.

The horses are thought to have broken free from a field near the university before going on a trot about town.

And residents and nearby business owners couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the horses taking a leisurely stroll through town.

Subway store manager James Taylor said he was with customers when he did a “double-take” to check what he had just seen was real.

He said: “A bit randomly, there were five horses eating the bushes outside.

“Everyone stopped to watch, then suddenly they bolted and ended up in the car park outside the local gym.”

The horses were later gathered outside Sweat Gym, on New Street, after their own workout – although it was slightly different to the work out enjoyed by the gym users inside.

Essex Police said the great escape was “not a police matter” and that the force “assisted the owners and helped get the horses back into their field”.

The university gave the horses a “hay-plus for effort” on their escape attempt.

A spokesman for the university said: “It’s fair to say these visitors caught us on the hoof.

“The horses had managed to escape from a nearby field and were soon rounded up and led back by their owner.

“Although they didn’t get far, we have to give them a ‘hay-plus’ for effort.”