A “gentle giant” who served with the Household Cavalry for 15 years has been put down aged 22.
The Horse Trust paid tribute to 17.2hh gelding Merlin, who retired to the charity in 2018. He was put down owing to issues with a former stifle injury.
A spokesman for the charity said Merlin attended numerous high-profile parades during his “long and distinguished career” including The Queen’s birthday parade, the Lord Mayor’s Show, the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Queen’s diamond jubilee parade.
“Merlin was also one of the chargers responsible for the senior household division officers on state ceremonial parades and occcasions,” he said. “He was the adjutant’s charger at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was trained to walk up the grand steps of the old college at the end of passing-out ceremonies. During his time in service Merlin was only one of two horses who were trainable and clever enough to do this.
“He was the ultimate gentle giant with the biggest of hearts. He was popular with all who rode him and patiently taught the most novice of riders. It was said he was so calm, anyone could ride him, and he would always look after them. Merlin was described by those who worked with him as ‘an absolute gent, both kind and loving to work with’.”
The spokesman said Merlin settled into retirement life immediately with his best friend Beau, who arrived at the charity on the same day, but in recent months it became apparent his stifle injury was causing further issues.
“Merlin was a cuddly horse despite his enormous size and loved human company. He was a joy to handle and resembled an oversized dog most of the time,” he said. “He was also a bit of a worrier and depended on handlers when it came to doing anything new or a little scary. This sensitive chap built up a fantastic bond and connection with the grooms and this is something we will all truly miss.
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“Having box-rested Merlin a few times, unfortunately every time he returned to the field he would suffer with lameness again. Sadly this was the sort of injury that would continue to degenerate making the chances of it healing or getting better very slim. For this reason we decided that as heartbreaking as it was, the kindest decision was to let him go.”
The charity’s chief executive Jeanette Allen told H&H Merlin will be truly missed.
“It was our honour to care for such a lovable boy who had served our country for so many years. We only wish we could have had him longer but it wasn’t to be.”
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