Heartbroken farewell to brave police horse after happy retirement

  • The Horse Trust has said a heartbroken goodbye to a “magnificent” former police horse after his eight-year career and 10-year retirement.

    Gawain arrived at the charity aged 14, as he had developed navicular disease, and became one of its most popular residents.

    A spokesman said that during his time with the Metropolitan Police, Gawain was known as one of the force’s kindest and most loyal horses, facing violent and volatile situations calmly and efficiently.

    These included demonstrations against student tuition fees, and the G20 summit in 2009, and a Cardiff v Chelsea football match featuring what officers described as the worst football violence since the 1970s.

    “Being such a tall and beautiful grey, he also often led the grey escort for royal ceremonies and parades and at one point was likely the most photographed horse in the country,” the spokesman said.

    “Gawain had an incredibly special place in all our hearts and he was so well loved that he even became one of our sponsor horses, representing our work across the country and quickly becoming just as popular with our supporters too. Gawain had a large number of loving sponsors who followed his journey with us and who have loyally supported him for the last 10 years.”

    Estate foreman Jon Taylor, who had ridden Gawain while both were with the police, said he was privileged to have known the horse in both spheres.

    “Your striking grey markings with your imposing stature and regal Roman nose would always attract attention,” he said.

    “Either admiration or occasionally trepidation, depending on who you were dealing with and under what circumstances. In retirement I would try to seek some time to stop and share a quiet moment of reflection with you. From the busy streets of London to the tranquil pastures of the Chiltern Hills, Gawain, you remained the gentle giant. Honest, friendly and a loyal companion. Goodbye ‘big guy’, you are much loved and will be deeply missed.”

    The spokesman added that Gawain had developed arthritis and was managed “expertly” in terms of the ground he was kept on, farriery and medication.

    “This autumn, however, Gawain’s pain levels increased and despite our best efforts we were sadly not able to get him to a point where he could continue to have a good quality of life,” he said.

    “It is one of the hardest things we have to do, working here, deciding at which point it is no longer fair and kind to our residents to keep them with us so that we can selfishly continue to spend time with them. For Gawain, we knew this was the right time for him, despite how incredibly difficult it has been coming to terms with it.

    “Gawain, you were always such a kind and loving member of the Horse Trust family and it has been 10 glorious years looking after you in retirement. You remained so loving to all despite some of the difficult things you must have seen. Your very special bond with our own CEO, who is broken-hearted at your loss, is just one example of how special you were.

    “It has been our honour caring for you for all these years but now it is time for you to rest in peace. Gawain, you have and will always be so well loved by all of us here. RIP Gawain, we will never forget you.”

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