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Remembering those we lost in March

Here at the Home of Rest we are privileged to give some of the most courageous and kind-hearted horses in the country the best retirement possible and continue to tell their stories despite them hanging up their bridles, saddles or harnesses. Traditionally, by the age of 16 a horse can be considered ‘geriatric’  and around 70% of horses beyond the age of 20 require some form of specialist veterinary care. The average age of our beautiful herd here at The Horse Trust is around 20 years old, so the vast majority of our residents are coming to the time in their life that they need extra help and for each horse this care will look different. This is why your support is so crucial to the work we do, as this individualised and specialist care for each of our 125+ horses takes a lot of resources.

Much of the care we provide is similar to that of a hospice, managing conditions that are either incurable, recurring or degenerative in nature to allow these wonderful equine public servants a comfortable retirement until they are ready to leave us for their final journey across the rainbow bridge.

Sadly, especially during the colder months, these chronic conditions often worsen for our older residents or those suffering from more complex veterinary conditions, which is why you may notice that we lose more of our equine residents during this period. We do absolutely everything possible to manage our horses’ health conditions and our amazing veterinary surgeon gives all our residents the best care but ultimately we acknowledge that there comes a time when it is unfair to continue treatment and it is in their best interest to allow them a dignified end to avoid any unnecessary suffering. We want to shine a light on each herd member we lose, giving them the recognition and kudos they deserve for a final time and to let you know as our supporters of their passing.

In memory of those we have lost – March 2024


Gemma served for over 15 years with the Household Cavalry and completed a variety of parades in both divisions and the band. Referred to as a ‘steadfast and true horse’, Gemma arrived for retirement in 2022 due to arthritic changes in her neck that meant she could no longer carry full ceremonial kit or be ridden. A kind and gentle mare, she settled in very well here but unfortunately the arthritis in her neck deteriorated and it became obvious that she was no longer able to lay down to rest and sleep. Despite re-medicating the affected joints, no improvement was seen and therefore the kindest thing to do was put Gemma to sleep at the age of 24.

Goliath, former Household Cavalry horseGoliath

Lovely Goliath retired from the Household Cavalry having served in the Blues and Royals and in the Training Wing teaching recruits to ride. An asset to the Cavalry, he participated in every parade from 2006 until his retirement in 2014.  An 18hh shire, it’s no wonder his nickname was Big G but despite his size, he was such a loveable and easy-going guy. Originally retired due to arthritis, Goliath’s condition was managed by our veterinary team but more recent deterioration of his arthritis and contraindicating conditions meant that we sadly had to say a final goodbye to Goliath. He was 23 years old when he passed.


Little Major retired to us from Windsor and Ascot Driving Group, a member of the Riding for the Disabled Association. During his working life, he would give weekly driving lessons both at the stables and also around Windsor Great Park. He also took part in disabled driver classes at Royal Windsor Horse Show. He hung up his harness in 2020 due to a few veterinary concerns that meant he could no longer work. A real character here in our herd, Major was known for having a mischievous streak! Sadly, as his conditions progressed, this mischief we came to expect waned and it was obvious that despite treatment, he wasn’t coping and we said goodbye for the final time to Major at the age of 29 years old.

Kilmarnock, former Police Scotland horseKilmarnock

Kilmarnock began her career with Strathclyde Police in 2001 and latterly Police Scotland when all 8 Scottish police forces merged. This plucky mare was a mainstay of the department and was largely used as a supervisors mount throughout her career due to the fact she was eager to please and had an excellent temperament. Described as a good natured horse and loved by all who work with her, Kilmarnock retired to us in 2019 due to general lameness associated with arthritis which made her unsuitable for police duties where the work was predominantly on hard surfaces. Kilmarnock, affectionately known as Killi, had her arthritis carefully managed by the team and enjoyed her retirement thoroughly with her field mates. Unfortunately, she sustained a ruptured tendon. Sadly, there was no treatment option that would not cause issues with another of Kilmarnock’s ailments and so the best option was to allow her a peaceful passing so that she was no longer in pain.

IllustriousIllustrious, former Metropolitan Police horse

Illustrious started his career in the Metropolitan Mounted Police back in 2005 and once he completed his training at Imber Court, he became the favourite mount of the Deputy Assistant Commissioner who rode him at all State Ceremonial Occasions. He excelled at all his policing duties and was involved in several important events, such as the funeral escort for previous Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Due to his years of experience and calm nature, Illustrious semi-retired to join the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in 2018 as he was an extremely reliable horse for novice riders performing ceremonial duties. He was also used to assist in the training and development of the Household Division Officers and was ridden by the Coldstream Guards Royal Colonel at the late Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2022 prior to his retirement in the same year. Once it came time to finally retire fully, we were proud to take Illustrious in after his, well, illustrious career! At the age of 24, he was suffering several conditions including arthritis, sinus issues, equine asthma and some missing teeth. Despite this, Illustrious enjoyed spending as much time as possible out in the field with his fellow retirees kicking his hooves up after a long career. Regrettably, Illustrious suffered from a bout of colic amongst his other issues and whilst he was initially responsive to treatment he then took a turn for the worse and surgery would not be advisable at his age. To save Illustrious from any further pain, the decision was made to put him to sleep. He was 26 years old.

As always, our hearts feel the pain of these losses but also the pride of giving these equine public servants the very best care in their retirement.

The Horse Trust relies on public donations to continue to provide a forever home to retired military, police, Royal Mews and working horses. If you would like to be part of our story you can find out how below.


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