08/10/2013 Military heroes help raise thousands for retired army horses

The Chelsea Pensioners and Defence Animal Centre have helped raised thousands to support our retired army horses at our recent Horses, Hounds and Heroes Family Fun Day.

Defence Animal Centre

The MoD’s Defence Animal Centre (DAC), the Regimental home of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) supported the event, wowing the crowds with demonstrations by their military Canine Training Squadron, the Army School of Farriery with their mobile forge and Veterinary Training Squadron who brought along their veterinary aid post that is used to treat military working dogs serving in the field. The event was also supported by The Light Cavalry HAC who impressed visitors with their display in the main arena.

Chelsea Pensioners Met Retired Army Horses

A group of Chelsea Pensioners, many of whom had served with The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), spent the day meeting retired army horses at The Horse Trust and reminiscing with serving RAVC soldiers. Chelsea Pensioner Charmaine even brushed off her riding boots to have a go on rescued horse Walt who survived the horrors of Spindle’s Farm, Amersham and was giving pony rides on the day.

Retirement for Working Horses

The Horse Trust is the only UK charity that specialises in providing a dignified retirement for Britain’s working horses. Our Home of Rest for Horses is home to many retired army horses and this has led to it being compared to the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Whilst these veteran horses cannot be compared to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much to serve our country, it is important to acknowledge these hard-working equine civil servants by giving them dignified retirement after a lifetime of service to our nation. 

Helping Wounded Horses in World War 1

The Horse Trust has a long history of working with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, which began when the charity provided the first ever motorised horse ambulance to the army to help War Horses in World War 1 (WW1).  This ambulance helped transport wounded horses from the front line in France. The ambulance travelled 13,000 miles in just 2 years and carried over 1,000 horses to veterinary hospitals where they could be treated. The horse ambulance was so successful that the War Office commissioned more and by the end of the war 14 of these vehicles were in operation in France, saving many thousands of horse’s lives.

2.5 Million Animals Hospitalised

During WW1 a typical veterinary hospital in France could take 2,000 patients. Most animals suffered from battle injuries, debility, exhaustion, mange and, for the first time, gas attacks. The success rate was high; two and a half million animals were hospitalised in France and of those 80% were successfully treated and returned to duty. An outstanding achievement far exceeding anything previously attained which earned the Corps its Royal prefix on 27th November 1918. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Pope, commanding officer of the DAC, said

Thanking The Horse Trust

‘The Defence Animal Centre cherishes its long association with the Horse Trust and the support that they have and continue to provide Army horses whose retirement needs preclude them from being retired to former riders and members of the public. Our support to the Horses, Hounds and Heroes Family Fun day is an opportunity to thank the Horse Trust and its staff for the support that they provide to our horses in their retirement.’

To find how you could help please become a Friend of The Horse Trust or call 01494 488464.