It is over 30 years since this horrific atrocity in Knightsbridge, a car bomb that killed four soldiers and seven horses from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. The bomb was the first of two explosions that killed a total of eleven soldiers and seven army horses and injured officers from the Metropolitan Police and innocent bystanders. Cavalry horses Sefton and Yeti and Metropolitan police horse, Echo, who survived the attack, were retired from their duties to The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses in Buckinghamshire to live out the remainder of their days in the peace and tranquillity of the Chiltern Hills.
Sefton, probably the best remembered of the Hyde Park bombing surviving horses injured in this horrific attack became a national hero after recovering from his wounds. 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 3 weeks later was moved to the Veterinary Hospital of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) at the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) Melton Mowbray where more pieces of metal were removed.
Born in Ireland and purchased by the army in 1967 for the Household Cavalry, this 16hh black gelding with a white blaze and four white 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 equine friends.
One of these friends was stunning 16.1hh, 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 was another of the Hyde Park bombing surviving horses and 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 and 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.
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’s last ceremonial outing was at The Queen’s Birthday Parade in June 1984 and he was then retired to The Horse Trust at the age of 21. After enjoying his retirement, Sefton passed away in 1993 and it was only fitting that he should be buried at the DAC at Melton.
The last of the Hyde Park bombing surviving horses at the charity was 16hh gelding Yeti who was known as the little horse that everyone forgot. Yeti endeared himself to everyone and was the epitome of an old gentleman.
Shirley Abbott, Yard Manager at The Horse Trust said, “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 lifetime of service, with a quiet and dignified retirement at our Home of Rest for Horses.”
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