Wobbler syndrome forces police horse to retire aged seven

  • A police horse whose career was cut short owing to a neurological condition has been welcomed by a charity, with hopes of finding him a non-ridden home in the future.

    Clover joined South Wales Police as a five-year-old in 2021 and showed “all the attributes to have a fantastic career”. But when it became apparent something “wasn’t quite right” with the way he was walking, the force sought veterinary advice.

    Clover was diagnosed with wobbler syndrome, also known as cervical vertebrae stenotic myelopathy. Wobbler syndrome is associated with a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck that leads to compression or the spinal cord. This can lead to neurological abnormalities, including ataxia.

    It was decided that Clover was “no longer able to cope with the physical demands” of being a police horse, and he was retired to HorseWorld in Bristol.

    “We’re pleased to welcome Clover. He’s a gentleman and a credit to the training he received with South Wales Police,” said Sarah Hollister, HorseWorld’s head of equine welfare.

    “He’s settled in really well and has even found himself a ‘girlfriend’. He has been assessed by our vets, and other than the neurological condition which brought about his early retirement, he’s very happy and healthy.”

    Sarah added that Clover will be given time to continue settling in and the team will get to know his character, before deciding “what his next chapter may be”.

    “He has such a sweet nature, we’re hoping he could be rehomed as a non-ridden companion on our loan scheme and enjoy life as part of a loving family,” she said.

    HorseWorld is also home to Lolly, a 17.1hh Shire mare with similar with neurological problems to Clover’s. She was taken in by the charity in 2017.

    “It’s so rewarding to be able to offer a home to horses like these.” said Sarah. “In this current climate, it’s hard for horses of this size to find a good home when they cannot be ridden.

    “They are costly pets and there aren’t many people who are happy to take on a responsibility like that. Here they are safe, loved and are valued members of the HorseWorld family. Their individual needs will be met and we can guarantee they’ll never know cruelty or neglect for the rest of their lives.”

    Lolly arrived with Dime and elderly mare Florin as part of a multi-agency operation, when a herd of 27 Shires was abandoned by their breeder. Dime has since found a home, and Florin “lived to a good age”, but had since died. Lolly will soon be available on HorseWorld’s sponsorship scheme.

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