Grey Shire horse who served at The late Queen’s funeral retires aged 18

  • An 18.2hh grey Shire who served at The late Queen’s funeral has retired from duty aged 18.

    Heathfield Forrester retired to the Horse Trust after 12 years’ service to the Royal Parks charity. The organisation cares for and provides free access to the eight Royal Parks of London and historic green spaces, with a team of 10 Shires who are stabled at Richmond Park.

    “Heath” worked as a carriage-driving horse, alongside Shire gelding Nobby. At The late Queen’s funeral the pair collected the thousands of floral tributes left by the public.

    Heath and Nobby were also involved in a number of public occasions including the Platinum Jubilee, Shire Horse Sunday, and the blessing of the plough at Wellington Barracks. In addition Heath carried out conservation work in London’s green spaces, and provided carriage rides.

    “During his time in the Royal Parks, Heath stole many hearts not only due to his eye-catching appearance but because of his brave and kind personality too,” said a Horse Trust spokesman.

    “He was described by his former colleagues as a real gentleman who taught all the youngsters the ropes.”

    The spokesman added that Heath had “many claims to fame” including featuring on the Channel Five television series Behind the Scenes at Hampton Court Palace, and two appearances on BBC’s Countryfile.

    “Heath is no doubt our best horse and it will be a sad day to see him go,” said a Royal Parks spokesman. “We had hoped to have him for a further few years, but I’m sure he will be much loved at the Horse Trust.”

    The Horse Trust team is “honoured to welcome Heath after many years of noble service”.

    “He brought joy to the days and lives of many, worked hard towards a greener London for everyone, and bravely served our country at countless state occasions,” said the charity’s spokesman.

    “It is time to remove Heath’s harness and grant him a very long and well-deserved retirement among our green pastures, in the Chilterns, Buckinghamshire. Heath is currently enjoying getting to know fellow retiree Yachtsman, who recently joined us from the Metropolitan mounted branch. Our equine care team are all absolutely smitten with Heath.”

    Horse Trust chief executive Jeantte Allen added that Heath is a “truly stunning horse who has undertaken such valuable work during his service”.

    “It is a testament to the Royal Parks that they use heavy horses for traditional land maintenance work rather than always turning to machinery,” she said.

    “The more this type of initiative can be taken up the better and may also help save some of these breeds whose numbers have got alarmingly low in recent years. We are thrilled to have this gentle giant join us and wish him the happiest possible retirement. He and Yachtsman are already inseparable.”

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