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Heartbreak as retired police horse and award-winning rescue mare put down

A welfare charity has said a “heart-breaking goodbye” to two of its “most popular and well-loved residents”, a retired police horse and award-winning rescue mare.

Bransby Horses paid tribute to 24-year-old former police horse Justice and eight-year-old mare Emerald, who were put down last month.

A Bransby spokesman said 17.1hh Justice arrived in December 2010 from Greater Manchester Police and became a “firm favourite” by everyone who met him.

“Justice’s calm and kind nature won many hearts,” he said.

“Despite his large stature, which also meant he was incredibly handsome, he was always easy to handle.”

Rosanna Elliott Hart, acting head of external welfare, said: “I remember taking a group of scouts on a tour at the visitor centre. Everyone was very excited when we got to Justice and he was straight over to say hello.

“It was a cold day so everyone was wrapped up to keep warm but as we were talking about some of the work we do Justice decided that was the perfect moment to pluck a woolly hat from the head of a small scout and walk off with it. The children were all laughing hysterically and asking him to take their hats and scarves too! He was such a character who will be very missed.”

The spokesman said the gelding unexpectedly began to show some “unusual behaviour” earlier in the year and an assessment revealed he had developed a neurological issue.

“The team and vets continued to monitor him, but as his condition couldn’t be improved they made the decision to euthanise him this October. The team were greatly saddened by such a sudden turn of events, but knew his best interest was at heart. Having been on site for many years and a very popular ‘sponsor star’ for much of that, he is going to be sorely missed.”

Bransby farm manager Rachel Jenkinson said Justice was a “special gent”.

“I always have a soft spot for those that have served. He had a wonderful retirement with us and was surrounded by friends both horse and human. He was another great ambassador and legend of Bransby,” she said.

The spokesman said 14.2hh mare Emerald became a “treasured” member of the charity’s family following her arrival in 2016, along with Amethyst, Peridot, Diamond and Tanzanite.

Emerald

“On arrival, Emerald was extremely poorly requiring 24-hour care at our animal reception centre (ARC). She was visibly emaciated, had a body condition score of 0.5 and was unable to stand unaided,” he said.

“The ARC team cared for Emerald around the clock, lifting her by hand with a special harness every few hours until she had the strength to stand alone.”

Emerald won the “back from the brink” category at the 2017 Animal Hero Awards following her rescue.

“After spending months at the ARC being nursed back to good health, Emerald and her friends joined the visitor centre yard where they spent time charging around the field having a great time and making lots of mess,” said the spokesman.

“She had physio to improve the movement in her joints and the team spent time working on her handling and she soon progressed and developed into a well-behaved mare. Although she had ongoing lameness and pain relief to keep her comfortable, to our surprise, she was quite often caught zooming around her field when she was feeling on form.”

The spokesman said the welfare team continued to monitor the mare’s ongoing lameness and dental issues throughout her time at the charity.

“Unfortunately her pain was increasing significantly, alongside a growing difficulty to eat,” he said.

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“The decision was taken by our vets to euthanise her in October. She leaves a huge hole in many hearts within the teams and our supporters, who helped give her three more years of life full of love and care, following the harrowing ordeal she endured before coming to our charity.”

Shell Craven, team leader at the visitor centre, said the mare’s absence will be noticed and the charity will miss her “terribly.”

“The big girl herd won’t be the same without her and her crazy moments,” she said.

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