Sad farewell to Household Cavalry charger with a ‘heart of gold’

  • Tributes have been paid to a Household Division charger with a “heart of pure gold”, who has been put down in retirement. 

    Oscar, a 17.2hh Irish sports horse, retired to the Horse Trust in December 2019 after 13 years’ military service. He was put down on 10 August aged 26 owing to health issues caused by arthritis.

    A spokesman for the charity said Oscar was described as “outstanding” throughout his career, carrying out all his duties to the highest of standards, and was known for looking after senior Household Division officers on state ceremonial parades and occasions.

    “Due to his striking good looks and reliable temperament, Oscar was often chosen to be the centre horse on The Queen’s birthday parade, which he attended 14 times, carrying the field officer in Brigade Waiting [an appointment in the royal household],” said the spokesman.

    “He was also selected as the charger for the Brigade Major, with one of his most notable roles being the chosen charger of Lieutenant General Sir George Pemberton Ross Norton KCVO, when he commanded the Household Division.”

    The Horse Trust’s veterinary director Nicola Housby-Skeggs, a former Household Cavalry vet, said she had “fond memories” of Oscar from her time in the military.

    “He was always very reliable and really looked after his rider,” she said. “He was steady on parade and an incredibly intelligent horse; if you forgot where you were going, Oscar would remember!”

    The spokesman said owing to Oscar’s calm temperament he worked steadily into his 20s, helping to bring on younger horses until he retired owing to arthritis.

    “Oscar came off the lorry full of beans and took to retirement like a duck to water. Since his arrival he has enjoyed regular trips to the clinic, where he has always been a very well-behaved patient for Nicky,” he said.

    “He unfortunately had a problem with his heart soon after his arrival, and in spring we thought the worst would happen and we were going to lose him. However Oscar was a fighter and he really rallied around and made a remarkable recovery, meaning he could have a lovely summer back out in the fields with his friends”.

    The spokesman Oscar had recently started to struggle with the harder ground owing to his arthritis.

    “Although inside he was full of beans and felt like Tigger, his legs weren’t always able to keep up with his mind. He became very stiff and wasn’t always able to get his legs where they needed to be, which in a horse that size was a big concern, as we could no longer keep him comfortable. It was at this point that we had to make the incredibly difficult decision to let him go,” he said.

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    “Throughout his life Oscar absolutely loved attention and human company, so we made sure that his final day was spent being thoroughly spoilt, groomed and pampered on the luscious grass in the middle of the yard which he absolutely adored. He was an absolute gentleman with a heart of pure gold, both kind and loving.”

    The Horse Trust’s chief executive Jeanette Allen said Oscar was “much loved” by all who served with him.

    “We have known him for years and hoped we would have this gentle soul for longer once retired. Sadly life didn’t work out that way but even after a relatively short time here, we will still miss him hugely,” she said.

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