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Carriage cob named as War Horse Memorial ambassador

A cob who works pulling tourist carriages has been named as the first of 100 ambassadors for the charity War Horse Memorial.

The list of horses, compiled from public nominations, includes famous First World War heroes such as Warrior and Songster, but also modern-day equines who are “heroes” to those around them.

Annie, a 10-year-old cob, was the first horse to be chosen by the charity, thanks to her role as an ambassador during “purple poppy” commemorations — during last year’s appeal, she helped raise £3,360.

The 14.3hh mare is owned by Kirk and Hannah Petrakis, who operate K&H carriages in Cockington, near Torquay in Devon.

Kirk contacted the War Horse Memorial in 2018 when the charity was just beginning to become involved with the purple poppy appeal and Annie became the first horse to “host” the occasion in Devon.

“I had been raising money for the Royal British Legion but I really wanted to do something more to recognise the role horses, mules and donkeys played in war,” he said. “It’s something I was passionate about and it’s good to see it more and more widely recognised.”

Kirk’s interest in the role of equines in war was inspired by Cockington, which he describes as a village with a strong “horse heritage”.

“During research I found out that the owner of the estate was a major in the Royal Artillery, he lost his life in the war and most of the horses from the estate would have gone with him,” he said. “We have even got a plaque in the village dedicated to equines.”

Kirk said he felt Annie was perfect for the role of ambassador as she represents the “typical horse that would have been taken to the front, and the owners would have had no choice.”

“She has a lovely personality, she’s the kind of horse who knows when you’re sad. She’s very much a friend and the relationship you have with her is similar to the relationship soldiers would have had with horses during the war,” said Kirk, who bought Annie three years ago from Blackpool, where she pulled carriages along the sea front.

“On the purple poppy days when people see her, they really respond.”

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Eight horses out of 100 are currently named on the list, and also include successful showing competitor Turbo, owned by Lizzie Ozeman.

Nominations are still open, and can be submitted to the War Horse Memorial at susan@thewarhorsememorial.org

Funds raised by War Horse Memorial’s purple poppy appeal support charities including Brooke, World Horse Welfare, Household Cavalry Foundation and Royal Artillery Chartitable Fund.

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