1982 saw the horrors of the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings that killed eleven soldiers and seven army horses. Further injuries were sustained to officers from the Metropolitan Police as well as innocent bystanders. Cavalry horses Sefton and Yeti and Metropolitan police horse, Echo, who survived the attack, were retired from their duties to The Home of Rest 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, 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 that 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, the 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 at The Home of Rest.
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 – a sight that 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 Home of Rest 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.
Stunning 16.1hh, grey gelding, Echo, the Metropolitan Police horse, carried the marks of the infamous attack with a piece of shrapnel embedded in his side. Echo made a good recovery from his wounds but was unable to continue his duties as the explosion had made him nervous of traffic and crowds. He was the most sweet natured and amiable of horses and contentedly lived at The Home of Rest for 20 years until his death from recurring colic in December 2003 at the age of 33.
The last of the Hyde Park bombing surviving horses brought to The Home of Rest 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, former Yard Manager at The Home of Rest 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.”
The Home reached its Centenary in 1986. To mark this milestone of continuous equine welfare work, and as a tribute to Hyde Park Bombing survivor Sefton, the charity gave a grant of £300,000 to fund the building of a modern equine veterinary hospital at the Royal Veterinary College, London. The Home of Rest went on to become one of the UK’s leading funders of equine veterinary research. This research has helped improve the care and welfare of horses across the world.