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Trust remembers Britain’s war horses

The first motorised ambulance used to transport injured war horses  from the battlefields of World War 1 to veterinary hospitals. Photo: The Horse Trust

The first motorised ambulance used to transport injured war horses from the battlefields of World War 1 to veterinary hospitals. © The Horse Trust

The world’s oldest horse charity is preparing to remember Britain’s war horses, as Remembrance Sunday approaches.

The Horse Trust will look back at 100 years of helping war horses throughout the conflicts of the last century.

Founded in 1886 to help London’s working horses, the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 drove the charity to new heights.

Known at the time as The Home of Rest for Horses, its patrons were inspired to help the plight of war horses and provided the first motorised horse ambulance to transport wounded horses from the front line in France.

The charity’s 1916 annual report reveals that in two years this ambulance travelled about 13,000 miles and carried more than 1000 injured horses.

So successful was its operation that the War Office commissioned 13 more of them and there were 14 horse ambulances operating across the battlefields of France at the end of the war.

To this day, the charity maintains a close relationship with Britain’s armed forces, helping horses that have served in the army, providing many with a dignified retirement after years of service.

The charity’s very first war veteran, San Toy, retired to the Home of Rest in 1919 after serving in both the Boer and World War 1 campaigns. He stayed until his death in 1923.

Perhaps the best known ex-army resident of modern times is Sefton, who was critically injured when the Irish Republican Army bombed Hyde Park and Regent’s Park in 1982. After recovering from his injuries he returned to service in the Household Cavalry for two years, before retiring to The Horse Trust, where he lived until he died, aged 30, in 1993.

Currently, the trust is home to horses who have served in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, The Kings Troop, The Light Cavalry HAC and The Royal Mews.

Commando retired from The Blues and Royals of The Household Cavalry in August 2012. He is one of the few horses that has participated in the Royal Wedding, both Golden and Diamond Jubilee parades and has also been a Standard Bearer and an Officer’s Charger.

The trust says it is honoured to provide a place of rest for horses like Commando when they retire from service.

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  1. smokeysdad says:

    It’s a shame America can’t do the same. They have such a legacy and even special heroes i.e. Sergeant Reckless. Yet our Department of the Interior is allowing their descendants removal from the land given their warrior ancestors by the President of the United States.

    I speak of our Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge…a place that the horses roamed many many years before the establishment of the refuge. So far 240 of them have been gathered and sent off with slaughterhouse purveyors along with $250,000.00 dollars of taxpayer’s money. The ultimate goal is to zero out the horses and burros from this refuge that never got protection from the ‘Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act’ of 1971 because they were supposed to be protected by the refuge.

    Yet ‘insanity’ has set in at the DOI and the herds are being removed for what is said to be ‘damaging water sources’. Amazing they’ve lived there and had access to water for over 100 years and now suddenly they’ve become destructive? Sally Jewell it’s your watch!

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