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Military horses that bolted in London ‘should miss Trooping ceremony and retire’

Two of the Household Cavalry horses on the loose bolting through the London in April (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
Two of the Household Cavalry horses on the loose bolting through the London in April (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

An animal rights group has urged the Army to withdraw three military horses, who were injured after bolting through central London, from the Trooping the Colour ceremony, saying they should be retired from duty.

The animals – Trojan, Tennyson and Vanquish – are back on service following the incident in April and are now expected to take part in the King’s Birthday Parade on Saturday, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) confirmed.

But Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has written to the regiment’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mathew Woodward, warning that letting the horses perform in front of the crowds at Trooping is a risk to both the animals’ and the public’s safety.

The group said the trio, and two other injured horses – Vida and Quaker – which are still recuperating in the country, should be retired permanently.

Two horses bolted after being spooked by rubble being dropped through a plastic tunnel while on an exercise in Belgravia on April 24, with Vida seen galloping through the streets covered in blood.

Four service personnel were thrown from their horses and five of the animals got loose, smashing into vehicles and causing a number of injuries.

Trooping the Colour
The King during last year’s Trooping the Colour ceremony (Aaron Chown/PA)

Kate Werner, Peta’s senior campaigns manager, wrote: “Clearly, these horses are easily agitated and sensitive to noise.

“Forcing them to perform at a crowded event marked by drums and a 41-gun salute would place them and the public at risk.

“The whole world was rightly shocked to see images of scared, blood-soaked horses running through the streets of London after getting spooked during April’s failed exercise.”

Trooping the Colour
Crowds watching members of the Household Division during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 2023 (Aaron Chown/PA)

New photos of Vida and Quaker recuperating and enjoying their time in an open pasture showed they were “feeling individuals, not military equipment”, Werner said.

Werner argued animals were no longer a necessary part of the military.

“Tradition is never an excuse for animal suffering, and each horse deserves to live free from the stress they endure when paraded through a busy, loud capital city with a human on their back, all for the amusement of noisy, unpredictable crowds,” the letter read.

Trooping the Colour
The royal family on the balcony after Trooping the Colour (Victoria Jones/PA)

At Trooping the Colour, a major fixture in the royal calendar, the King’s Colour will be trooped by Number 9 Company, Irish Guards in an annual celebration of the monarch’s official birthday.

The event draws huge crowds and traditionally involves the royal family gathering on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after a display of pomp and military pageantry on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.

The King, who is being treated for cancer, will inspect the soldiers from a carriage rather than on horseback this year.