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Equine victims of British car bombing remembered

Sefton and Echo

Sefton and Echo

The Horse Trust in Britain will on Friday remember the victims of the Hyde Park bombing on the 30th anniversary of the attack that killed four soldiers and seven horses.

The victims of the July 20 car-bomb attack in Knightbridge were all members of  the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

Cavalry horses Sefton and Yeti, and Metropolitan police horse Echo, were retired from their duties as a result of the attack . They retired to The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses to live out their days in the peaceful Chiltern Hills.

Probably the most remembered of these horses was Sefton, who was peppered with shrapnel from the blast but survived.

Born in Ireland and purchased by the army in 1967 for the Household Cavalry, the 16-hand black gelding with a blaze and four socks was known for his bold and wilful character.

Quite head-strong at times, Sefton was at his happiest grazing in the fields amongst his horsey friends.

One of these friends was the stunning 16.1 -hand grey gelding, Echo, the Metropolitan Police horse who carried the marks of the infamous attack with a piece of shrapnel embedded in his side.

Echo had made a good recovery from his wounds but was unable to continue with his duties as the explosion had made him nervous of traffic and crowds. He was retired to The Horse Trust in 1983.

He was the most sweet-natured and amiable of horses and contentedly lived at the sanctuary for 20 years until his death from recurring colic in December 2003 at the age of 33, the trust said.

Sefton did not return to regimental duties for some time, but was a horse very much in demand by the public.

One of his first appearances was at the Horse of the Year Show in October 1982, where he was joined by Echo, which immediately brought the audience to a standing and emotional ovation.

Sefton

Sefton

Sefton’s last ceremonial outing was at The Queen’s Birthday Parade in June 1984. He was then retired to The Horse Trust at the age of 21.

At the time of the bomb blast, Sefton had suffered 38 penetrating wounds in his body and a piece of metal had severed a main artery in his neck.

It was a miracle of expert and prompt veterinary attention which saved Sefton’s life but he required further surgery and three weeks later was moved to the Veterinary Hospital of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps at the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray, where more pieces of metal were removed.

After enjoying his retirement, Sefton died in 1993 and it was only fitting that he should be buried at the Defence Animal Centre.

The last of the surviving horses at the charity was the 16-hand gelding Yeti. He was known as the little horse that everyone forgot. Yeti endeared himself to everyone and was the epitome of an old gentleman.

Horse Trust yard manager Shirley Abbott recalls: “Yeti and Echo were inseparable and it was a joy to see such gentle animals enjoying the company of each other after such a horrific act of violence.

“With the care and expertise of our staff they were able to grow old together and live a long and peaceful life.

“It was a privilege to be able to repay these horses, who had given a life of service, with the companionable peace of the Home of Rest for Horses.”

The trust said its thoughts and prayers were with the families of the soldiers that lost their lives and those who were injured.

“Our special thoughts are with the horses that ended their days peacefully with us, on this 30th anniversary.”

A commemorative, life-size, bronze sculpture of Sefton by artist Camilla Le May is being cast and finished and it is planned to unveil this at the Royal Veterinary College in spring  of 2013. The trust assisted Le May with images and information in her initial research for this project.

 

 

 

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  1. Please see my blog for the full story on the making of Sefton posted just this week. It will be updated with photos as the casting progresses over the next couple of weeks:

    http://www.camillalemay.com/blog/

    The National Army Museum have also released a story on their blog:

    http://www.nam.ac.uk/microsites/war-horse/blog/

    Thank you to Paul Jepson and others at the Horse Trust for their kind help in assisting me in my background research on Sefton. As I never knew Sefton the support and help of those who knew, rode and cared for Sefton was so important in order for me to do my best to capture something of his character.
    Am very much thinking of those families who were so devastated by this horrific atrocity 30 years ago.

    Camilla Le May

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