‘She captured our hearts’: farewell to mare who served the military for 18 years

  • A kind mare who enjoyed a distinguished 18-year military career and was known to be a “best friend” to officers has been put down aged 29.

    The Horse Trust paid tribute to part-bred Irish draught Burniston, who retired to the charity in 2014 following a career in the Defence Animal Training Regiment and later the Household Division.

    The 16.2hh mare took part in all ceremonial duties as well as attending the state opening of Parliament and state visits from foreign dignitaries.

    “Because of her beauty, grace and calm temperament, Burniston was chosen as the centre horse at Trooping the Colour,” said a Horse Trust spokesman.

    “This lovely lady was said to be the infantry officers’ best friend and due to her kind nature, she would help her new riders enormously if it was their first parade; she knew all the commands like the back of her hoof and instantly knew when to move and when to stand still.”

    Credit: The Horse Trust

    The spokesman said when “Burnie” walked off the lorry in 2014 the charity knew she would “fit right in”.

    “Burniston captured our hearts from day one and was an absolute pleasure to care for due to her soft and affectionate nature,” he said.

    “She was very easy-going, calm and patient, and would politely stand even if there was chaos happening around her. She formed a really strong bond with Tryfan, a 17.2hh working Shire that we sadly lost.”

    The spokesman said Burnie caused “quite the scare” in 2019 when she was rushed to the Royal Veterinary College for treatment for a wound and it was discovered she had fractured her splint bone in two places.

    “She was very lucky that our team acted so quickly on finding this wound and rushed her for treatment. She had to spend a few months on box rest and in that time became a firm favourite on the yard,” he said.

    “She turned into a really soppy girl who adored attention and cuddles.”

    Burniston suffered from some ongoing health issues including equine asthma and arthritis, causing intermittent lameness over the past year.

    “Our vet Nicky had been monitoring and treating Burniston’s lameness in the field as due to her severe asthma, box rest became increasingly difficult to manage,” said the spokesman.

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    “Unfortunately her condition kept deteriorating and Nicky was no longer able to manage the pain and asthma. It was very unlikely that either condition would improve significantly enough to ensure she had a good quality of life. This meant that we knew it was time and we prepared ourselves to say our final goodbyes to this gentle lady.”

    The spokesman said it had been an honour to look after Burniston following her years of service, describing the mare as “truly one of a kind”.

    “Kind, gentle and loving you gave us so many treasured memories that we will never forget,” he said.

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