‘Pathfinder for Scotland’: heartbreak as much-loved retired police horse put down

  • A much-loved police horse described as a “pathfinder for Scotland” and the first skewbald to join the force, has been put down in retirement aged 24.

    The Horse Trust said it was with great sadness and the “heaviest of hearts” the charity said goodbye to “majestic” Mull on 2 November following recurring lameness issues.

    The 17.1hh gelding served 13 years in the force, beginning at Strathclyde Police (which later became Police Scotland when the forces merged) in 2003.

    “Not only did Mull lead a successful career but he was in fact the first ever coloured horse to serve in Scotland. This brave horse carried out all forms of duties over the years including parades, football matches, concerts, and public order duties,” said a Horse Trust spokesman.

    Horse Trust police horse put down

    “He even had the very important job of being the mount for the police supervisor during the 2005 G8 summit, as well as many appearances at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.”

    One of Mull’s career “highlights” was becoming the first Scottish police horse to take part in the Lord Mayors parade in 2004.

    “He was a horse that not only captured the hearts of many, but one who was a pathfinder for Scotland in many ways. It was clear to see that Mull was a valuable member of the Scottish team and they were sad to see him retire after more than a decade of amazing memories.”

    Mull retired to the Horse Trust in August 2016 with fellow police horse Kilsyth.

    “We were absolutely thrilled to welcome them into our family and the rest was pretty much history. From day one, Mull was the biggest character with the kindest soul. From the giant ears to the famous floppy lip, he really was a beauty with such charm,” said the spokesman.

    “Apart from breakfast, Mull’s favourite pastime was coming into the stables to meet visitors. He adored the attention and very much thought everyone was there to meet him. Being as popular as he was, Mull participated many times in our Horses, Hounds and Heroes parade. People loved to see him strut his stuff and he sure knew how to please his fans.

    “Mull was also used for internal training courses. His willing attitude meant he was the perfect candidate for people to learn with. He was a brilliant teacher who always took care of his students, even if they felt slightly intimidated by his height and size. He really was a big gentle giant at heart.”

    The spokesman said a favourite memory of the gelding was when he assisted one of the charity’s supporters in proposing to his partner last Christmas.

    “He really was the horse who could do it all. He was just so incredibly loved,” he said.

    The spokesman said the gelding had been suffering with recurring and severe lameness caused by late stage arthritis.

    “Under the watchful eye of vet Nicky, the team put him in a small paddock but he unfortunately came back in a few days later with a very high temperature,” he said. “Despite ongoing treatment his condition rapidly deteriorated over the next couple of days, and we decided that rather than put him through more it was kindest to let him go. He went very peacefully after head groom Claire spent the morning stuffing him full of his favourite treats.

    “It is so hard to find the words to explain how much Mull will be missed. It has been our honour to give him his much deserved retirement, and we will always cherish the years he has been one of our family. He really was one of the kindest horses we have ever had the privilege of looking after and it is safe to say he has left a huge hole in all our hearts.”

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    Horse Trust chief executive Jeanette Allen told H&H it is always “extremely sad” when the charity loses one of its residents.

    “As a retirement home for former service and working horses and ponies, we have to go through these losses all too frequently. Losing Mull has been particularly hard. He was one of the cuddliest, most lovable horses here, despite being one of the biggest,” she said.

    “Visitors and team members alike were completely in love with him and his amazing wobbly bottom lip. Such a big softie, so calm and relaxed after such a distinguished career on public service for the people of Scotland. It broke our hearts to say goodbye but it was the right time for him, we miss him terribly.”

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