A “right-hand horse” who served the Household Cavalry and captured the hearts of many has been put down aged 25.
The Horse Trust has paid tribute to 17.1hh gelding Churchill, who retired to the charity in August 2017 after 16 years’ military service.
A spokesman for the charity said the gelding had a full and busy career participating in all duties with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR).
“Churchill’s main role was spent as an HCMR band horse. His steadfast character enabled him to be the right-hand horse in numerous birthday parades for The Queen,” she said. “These horses had to be dependable and brave, meaning Churchill was essential to the team.”
Churchill performed in many ceremonial parades including the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, The Queen’s diamond jubilee and the state visits of the Chinese and South Korean presidents. He was a “huge favourite” with everyone in the regiment, the spokesman said, just as he was at the charity.
“Three years ago we had three handsome new military retirees; Churchill and his good pals Arnhem and Coldstream. The trio remained the best of friends until Coldstream’s passing in February 2018,” she said.
“Even after losing Coldstream, Churchill and Arnhem stayed firmly together often being mistaken as twins because of their similar markings. Churchill was also reunited with his former colleague Vainglory, who was the former mount of the director of music in the HCMR band. These two would have worked very closely together and it was certain they had not forgotten each other.”
The spokesman said Churchill “captured the hearts” of many humans and equines.
“He was a laid-back, friendly chap who thoroughly enjoyed retired life, always being one of the first to bumble down in the morning to say hello at breakfast and have a good scratch,” said the spokesman.
“Churchill was reacquainted with our vet Nicola Housby-Skeggs who worked with him during his military days. She said that he was extremely accident-prone and there had been many times when she had seen him recover from injuries and illnesses.”
The gelding has retired sound from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, aged 24
The gelding has been a part of many major ceremonies including Trooping the Colour, Royal Ascot, and The Queen’s 90th
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In recent weeks Churchill had become unwell with a cough, and it was discovered he was suffering from serious bacterial pneumonia. On 2 July he was put down after he stopped responding to treatment and his condition worsened.
“Churchill told us it was time to let go. Being an older boy watching him deteriorate was very hard, so the decision was made that we would say our final goodbyes to our darling Churchy,” said the spokesman.
“His last moments were spent being cuddled and kissed by our chief executive Jeanette before he fell asleep for the very last time. It had been an honour to offer him the retirement he deserved, another real-life Black Beauty we shall never forget,” said the spokesman.
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