04/09/2013 Sad Farewells

The Horse Trust has recently said a very sad goodbye to three of our beautiful horses, rescue horse Duchess, military horse Cordoba and police horse Oliver. These three horses spent their last days in retirement at The Horse Trust, relaxing and enjoying life without a care in the world. Although it is always sad to say goodbye, it is a part of life at The Horse Trust as we proudly provide a home for rescued and retired working horses, ponies and donkeys.

Our grand old girl Duchess had made a remarkable recovery from shocking criminal neglect. Duchess was rescued by our colleagues at the RSPCA from a field in Hertfordshire with a number of other horses and ponies, all of whom were starving and trying to survive by eating poisonous plants. Duchess was a 15.3hh, thoroughbred cross mare who appeared to have had a number of foals in her lifetime. Sadly ownership of Duchess and her companions could not be proved and so nobody could be prosecuted for her appalling treatment. Duchess lived at The Horse Trust for two years and was incredibly popular with visitors and staff alike. Duchess was also a wonderful model for our horse body painting sessions which help youngsters to understand equine anatomy in a really fun way. Vets believe that all the toxic plant material she'd eaten when starving had finally caused organ damage and, after losing a significant amount of weight, Duchess was sadly put to sleep.

Cordoba was a 16hh thoroughbred cross who came to us last year from RAF Halton Saddle Club to retire. Prior to this he had served with the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. His retirement was due to a neurological problem caused by severe arthritis of the spine. Cordoba was just 16 when his health problems meant that he was sadly put to sleep. Cordoba was extremely popular in the army and RAF and of course with all the staff at The Horse Trust. The Horse Trust is so pleased that we could give Cordoba a beautiful home in our care this last year.

One of our biggest characters, former Greater Manchester Police horse, Oliver passed away peacefully after a significant infection was discovered in both his hind pedal bones. The infection was already too far spread and so surgery was ruled out. There is a very big space here at The Horse Trust where Oliver used to be. He was a bit of a hooligan for his first 6 months but then settled into a very happy retirement and went from terror to gentle giant, especially enjoying all the attention during opening hours. Oliver’s former police rider Katy came down to visit him only a few days previously and when we broke the news to her she said the following: "Oliver saw me through my very first football match as a mounted officer and kept me safe for many many more footballs and other public order events. He was the most handsome horse and had a very mischievous side to him, cantering off in the riding school one winter to the sound of Susan Boyle singing 'Wild Horses'! Despite his occasional speed on soft ground, he was one of the most trustworthy horses we had, often being used by new officers for big events and escorting any new and inexperienced horses to the unit". During his impressive police career Oliver worked not only at football matches and the Commonwealth Games but also took part in patrols and public order work during riots in Oldham and Manchester and he even had the honour of taking part in HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee parade in the grounds of Windsor Castle. Oliver was a complete star and hugely loved by everyone who knew him in Manchester and all at The Horse Trust.

It is always so hard when we lose horses, but it remains a true joy and a privilege to give them the retirement they so richly deserve.