Charity pays tribute following loss of 17.3hh ‘icon’

  • Redwings Horse Sanctuary has paid tribute to an “icon” who has been put down aged 10. Major, a 17.3hh part-bred Percheron, was put down on 22 January at the charity’s Oxhill visitor centre, Warwickshire, owing to a number of health issues.

    Major, who was born at a rare breeds country park, arrived at the sanctuary in 2012 with his mother Duchess and “surrogate father” Fusilier after the park closed down.

    A spokesman for Redwings said Major appeared healthy on arrival but in 2013 was diagnosed with neurological deficits.

    “Major had issues with co-ordination, particularly in his hind limbs, and significant ataxia, but his condition was successfully managed at Redwings for many years,” said the spokesman.

    “In August 2017 evidence of ringbone and sidebone in both front feet was discovered and he was also diagnosed with degenerative joint disease (DJD) in his right hock so it was decided that he should retire from the adoption scheme. This meant that while his adopters could still continue to sponsor him and visit him, he would no longer be available to new sponsors.”

    The spokesman said Major spent time at Redwings’ equine hospital in Norfolk following his retirement so vets could keep a “close eye” on him and decide the best course of treatment.

    “As you can imagine caring for a such a large horse with ataxia and DJD presented quite the challenge. Fortunately with medication and remedial farriery to help support his feet, his condition stabilised and he was able to return to Redwings Oxhill in October 2017,” said the spokesman.

    “He lived very happily in his herd and enjoyed meeting all his fans again, but sadly over the last few months it became apparent that his arthritic issues were worsening and we were no longer able to keep him comfortable with medication.”

    The spokesman said Redwings has been overwhelmed by the support from the public since announcing the news.

    “Towering at 17.3hh, Major certainly wasn’t difficult to spot, yet despite his formidable size he was a real gentle giant and had learnt that by lowering his head he could receive lots of tickles behind his ears from his visitors – his absolute favourite thing,” said the spokesman.

    “To lose such a stunning and friendly horse has been desperately sad for his supporters and his carers, especially so soon after the loss of fellow retired adoption star Dylan. We’d like to thank everyone for all their kind thoughts.”

    A memorial fund has been set up in Major’s name and anyone who wishes to make a donation should call 01508 481000.

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