Forty-four people were injured, most of them children, when some 100 horses ran amok during a nighttime torchlit procession in Germany, police said Friday.

One 14-year-old girl was in critical condition after the incident, but is now stable, authorities said.

Around 100 children aged between eight and 17, accompanied by six adults, were riding Thursday night in Emsland, northwestern Germany, when something spooked the horses, causing them to unseat their riders and trample those on the ground.

Police spokesman Achim von Remmerden told news channel NTV that an investigation into the incident was launched but that the reason for the stampede was not yet known -- though German media speculated that one of the adults dropped a burning torch on the ground, spooking the horses.

The injured children were rushed to hospitals while the terrified horses were rounded up.