‘Not a dry eye’ as 12 ‘extraordinary’ horses retire together for rest, carrots and plenty of scratches

  • The rider of a Household Cavalry horse travelled with him for eight hours on their last journey together – as 12 “extraordinary” service horses made an emotional joint retirement.

    The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest welcomed nine horses from the Household Cavalry, two from the police and one from the Light Dragoons on the same morning, in a “moment of heartfelt farewells as well as exciting new beginnings”.

    The first three to arrive at the Buckinghamshire sanctuary were Household Cavalry horses Kilmanjaro, Jaipur and Harvester, retiring after 14, 13 and 11 years respectively.

    “Kilimanjaro is fondly known as Killer, yet his nickname is no precedent for his sweet nature,” a Horse Trust spokesman said. “His previous rider accompanied him to retirement, his love for him apparent judging by the eight-hour round trip he took from Hyde Park barracks to Melton Mowbray, where the newly retired Household Cavalry horses temporarily live, and back down south to our Home of Rest, where they journeyed together one last time.”

    Six more from the regiment, Odin, Legolas, Knightsbridge, Kimberly, Iago and Incognito, arrived shortly afterwards.

    “Beautiful 16.3hh Kimberly was the only mare out of nine, her calm nonchalant behaviour and refined appearance winning our hearts as soon as she stepped off the lorry,” the spokesman said. “Knightsbridge stood out as the only trumpeter of the group, with a beautifully distinctive grey coat, which wasn’t so grey a couple of hours after arrival as he became acquainted with his new paddock!

    “It was quite the sight witnessing the group of cavalry blacks plus Knightsbridge galloping off into acres of fresh grass after their military headcollars were removed for one final time. Their new neighbours, including Charisma and her friend Elizabeth, HRH Princess Anne’s former charger, seemingly dropped 10 years off their ages from all the excitement.”

    The spokesman said that the horses had had impressive careers, taking part in major generals’ inspections, Trooping the Colour, state openings of parliament, state visits, royal weddings and The late Queen’s funeral.

    A spokesman for the Household Cavalry said: “Their faithful service deserves the utmost admiration, and they are all truly the most deserving of a well-earned retirement.”

    Poppy, a 17.2hh Shire, arrived the same day, from the Lancashire Police mounted section, as did former Metropolitan Police horse Yachtsman, both of whom had retired owing to lameness.

    “Poppy took part in all types of police patrol work, from large football matches and events to Remembrance Day parades, which was very fitting as she was named Poppy after Armistice Day, the Platinum Jubilee parade in May 2022, leading a full military parade with a full band behind her, and much more,” said the spokesman.

    “Yachtsman was described as a ‘completely and utterly lovable thug who can be boisterous and clumsy at times, and very kind, affectionate, inquisitive… with very little spatial awareness!’ according to a spokesman for the Metropolitan mounted branch.”

    Former police horse Poppy relaxes into retirement

    The last to arrive was Sky, 25, who had spent four and a half years with the Light Cavalry Honourable Artillery Company, as part of the regiment’s ceremonial team.

    “Sky has been a massive part of the team here at the Light Cavalry Honourable Artillery Company, and she has a group of wonderful supporting riders that love and adore her,” a spokesman for the regiment said. “At 25 there are clear signs that she is ageing, and we are grateful to be able to give her the dignified retirement that she deserves.”

    The Horse Trust spokesman said it was an emotional day.

    “There wasn’t a dry eye as the horses galloped together in new pastures, marking the beginning of their retirements,” he said. “We’re overjoyed to be able to provide these magnificent animals with a well-deserved rest, plenty of carrots and of course those highly adored neck scratches.”

    Horse Trust chief executive Jeanette Allen added: “We’re thrilled to be able to provide a blissful retirement to this amazing group of equine public servants. We have lots of new personalities to get to know and that’s hugely exciting. These horses deserve their ease after a life of public service and we are truly honoured to be able to provide that for them all.”

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