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Heath and Nobby at The Royal Parks

Meet Heath, the Huge Grey Shire Horse who Served in The Royal Parks!

18.2hh grey Shire horse retires to The Horse Trust at the age of 18, after a long and very noble 12 years in service in the The Royal Parks.

Heath, formally known as Heathfield Forrester, is a special horse. Because of his colour, stature and kind nature, Heath was always the poster boy during his years in service and drew much public attention. In fact, he has many claims to fame, featuring in the Channel Five series ‘Behind the Scenes at Hampton Court Palace’, and twice on ‘Countryfile’!

Heath was predominantly used as a carriage horse alongside fellow grey Shire horse, Nobby, who is a little younger and still learning the ropes, but equally huge in stature.

Heath working (Photo credits: The Royal Parks)

Together, they served at all kinds of major events, including Elizabeth II’s funeral where they collected thousands of beautiful floral tributes left by the public to honour our late Queen. They were also involved in the Platinum Jubilee (including a special appearance in the ITV programme), Shire Horse Sunday (the annual blessing of the Shire horses by HM’s Chaplain at the Chapel Royal), and the blessing of the plough at Wellington Barracks.

As part of his everyday duties, Heath carried out crucial conservation work in London’s green spaces, as well as meeting the public, including his adoring fans, and even providing carriage rides on occasion!

During his time working in The Royal Parks, Heath stole many hearts not only due to his unique appearance but because of his brave and kind personality, too. He was described by his former colleagues as a real gentleman who taught all the youngsters the ropes.

Towards the end of his career, Heath was found to have a weakness in his right shoulder, meaning he could no longer pull carriages. Although sound when not working, he experienced stiffness when stabled and so it was decided that The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses was well matched to Heath’s needs.

The head of the stables providing heavy horses to The Royal Parks said:

Heath is no doubt our best horse and it will be a sad day to see him go. We had hoped to have him a further few years but his shoulder is now such that he is comfortable at rest but no longer at work. I’m sure he will be much loved at The Horse Trust.

The Royal Parks is the charity that cares for the most famous collection of urban parks in the world. They provide free access to London’s beautiful, natural and historic green spaces, to help improve everyone’s quality of life and wellbeing.

They use 10 Shire horses, stabled at Richmond Park, working hard to carry out crucial conservation activity across all the parks and London’s other green spaces, as well as ceremonial duties, and carriage rides on occasion.

We are honoured to welcome Heath into our care after many years of noble service. He brought joy to the days and lives of many, worked hard towards a greener London for everyone, and bravely served our country at countless state occasions.

Heath enjoying retirement alongside Yachtsman

It is time to remove Heath’s harness and grant him a very long and well-deserved retirement amongst our green pastures, in

the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire. Heath is currently enjoying getting to know fellow retiree, Yachtsman, who recently joined us from the Metropolitan Mounted Branch. Our Equine Care Team, of course, are all absolutely smitten with Heath; a huge bundle of love!

Jeanette Allen, CEO of The Horse Trust, says:

Heath is a truly stunning horse who has undertaken such valuable work during his service. It is a testament to The Royal Parks that they use heavy horses for traditional land maintenance work rather than always turning to machinery.

It must be a good thing for the sustainability agenda to go back to some older working practices that utilise the strength and skills of our country’s amazing heavy horse breeds.

The more this type of initiative can be taken up the better and may also help save some of these breeds whose numbers have got alarmingly low in recent years.

We are thrilled to have this gentle giant join us and wish him the happiest possible retirement, he and Yachtsman are already inseparable.

The Horse Trust relies entirely on public donations to continue caring for retired service horses and rescues. Please consider supporting us.


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