Sad farewell as health problems catch up with 19hh Digger

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Digger meets some new friends at World Horse Welfare's Belwade Farm.
Digger meeting new friends at World Horse Welfare’s Belwade Farm.

Health problems have caught up with one of Europe’s tallest horses, the 19hh clydesdale Digger, who was the face of a charity’s horse adoption scheme. He was just 14 years old.

World Horse Welfare reported this week that Digger had been euthanised after struggling with recurring abscesses in the past few months.

Digger arrived at World Horse Welfare’s Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre as a four-year-old in 2007 after his owner contacted World Horse Welfare to ask for help. He was growing fast and at such a young age, problems had started to occur with the joints in his hind legs.  After extensive rehabilitation and gentle veterinary care, Digger regained confidence and continued growing – earning his title as the biggest horse the charity has ever cared for.

Digger during his time with the Household Cavalry.
Digger during his time with the Household Cavalry.

Standing at an enormous 9 feet from the ground to the tips of his ears and weighing almost a tonne, Digger caught the attention of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and was accepted on a two-year training programme to become a drum horse, taking part in preparations for the Royal Wedding and Major General Parades. Unfortunately, it became apparent that Digger was much better suited to life in the slow lane away from busy London, so he returned to the Scottish Highlands in 2012 where he became Belwade Farm’s adoption horse.

Digger at Belwade Farm.
Digger at Belwade Farm.

Digger also fronted a TV ad for World Horse Welfare in 2015.

But over the last few months, Digger had been struggling with recurring abscesses and more recently, his demeanour had become increasingly subdued and withdrawn which was a marked change from the inquisitive, friendly personality that he was known to be. Often a significant change in demeanour like this can be a sign that a horse isn’t feeling right in himself and in Digger’s case the team felt his quality of life had very much deteriorated as a result of the health problems he had been experiencing.

Digger received the very best care from World Horse Welfare’s vet and farrier, but sadly his condition showed no signs of improving and so it was with a heavy heart that the whole team decided it was in Digger’s best interest to say goodbye.

“Digger was not only an amazing personality, loved by everyone who knew him but also a fantastic ambassador the charity,” said World Horse Welfare Belwade Farm Centre Manager Eileen Gillen.

“Despite losing his mother at just a few weeks old and battling a number of problems due to his extraordinary size, Digger led an inspiring life.

“He was the most lovable character who always enjoyed greeting visitors from far and wide, being careful and gentle with everyone – young and old, humans and horses alike.

“Digger captured the hearts of so many people from not only the UK but around the world. He will be sadly missed by each and every one of us here at World Horse Welfare.”

World Horse Welfare is inviting tributes, photos and memories of Digger which can be made by emailing

A star is born: Digger is fronting a new TV campaign for World Horse Welfare's Adopt-A-Horse Scheme.
Digger was the tallest horse cared for by World Horse Welfare.

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