Rescue horse Penny to retire after decade in military

Nick White visits Penny at the King’s Troop barracks before her retirement.
Nick White visits Penny at the King’s Troop barracks before her retirement.

Penny was once a lice-infested malnourished youngster in desperate need of rescuing from a muddy and barren field in Britain.

Penny put that past behind her to forge a fine career. She will soon step into retirement after nearly 12 years of distinguished service with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

Emaciated and lice infested at only four years old, Penny was the youngest of four Irish Draught mares saved from appalling conditions by the charity World Horse Welfare in March 2001.

The mares were found either up to their hocks in a muddy grassless field, or on two feet of muck 24 hours a day in roofless stables.

All were suffering from malnutrition, worm infestation and lice and in urgent need of attention to their teeth and feet.

Penny was totally unhandled and extremely difficult to manage. She trusted no-one and was almost impossible to treat.

After six months of rehabilitation, requiring much patience and understanding, the centre staff slowly built up a relationship with her.

As the thin, scruffy, bay filly was the very first unnamed animal taken into Penny Farm, she was given the name Penny, after Penny Thornton, the benefactor whose generosity enabled the centre to be built.

She was nursed back to health by the charity’s original farm manager, Tony Fleming, and later made headlines by successfully being rehomed with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery through Fleming’s connections, having previously served in the King’s Troop for 25 years himself.

World Horse Welfare’s London field officer, Nick White, visited Penny at the barracks for the last time.

“Penny, now named Hallmark by the troops, is a credit to World Horse Welfare and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery,” he said.

“Working daily on the streets of London, helping to pull one of the Royal Horse Artillery’s field guns, requires an even temperament, soundness and a high degree of fitness.

“It is hard to imagine that as a young horse she had such a bad start.”

She has performed on countless ceremonial occasions during her career.

“As the London field officer it has been a privilege to visit Penny/Hallmark and follow her career. I will look forward to now visiting her back at Penny Farm.”

The King’s Troop unit had been stationed at St John’s Wood since its formation in 1947, but recently moved to a new purpose-built equestrian training facility and accommodation centre in Woolwich, so it seemed like the perfect place for an exciting event.

Penny is set to leave the King’s Troop in September and return to Penny Farm for rehoming.

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