As the film War Horse hits cinemas this week, World Horse Welfare is remembering its horses, past and present, who have been exceptional while serving with the forces.
War Horse is about a horse called Joey who touches the hearts of many people during World War One. Now, WHW are paying tribute to the fantastic horses which have played a vital role in the services over the years.
Marley served with Greater Manchester Constabulary for seven years. The 16.1hh bay youngster came into WHW's Belwade Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Aberdeenshire in 2002 after his owners couldn't look after him anymore. After nursing his confidence and transforming his personality, it was agreed he could potentially be an ideal police horse and soon joined the mounted branch.
Fran Williamson trained Marley at Greater Manchester Police and said: "Marley was the last horse I trained in the police service; when he arrived he looked like a little pony but soon blossomed into a very handsome chap. He was a lovely horse and a pleasure to work with, very versatile and easy to train.
Marley, who has always been referred to as a special horse, has now retired from the police and has been rehomed to a loving new family.
Digger, an eight-year-old 19hh Clydesdale gelding is on a two year programme to become a drum horse with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. The 'gentle giant' came into Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Aberdeenshire in 2010 as his previous owners could no longer cope with looking after him.
His talents were soon realised though, and was soon after rehomed by the regiment where he continues to do well with his training. The Household Cavalry Adjutant, Captain Roly Spiller, said: "Digger has proven to be a hugely popular horse with an excellent temperament, and is making good progress with his training. It will take some time for him to build up to carrying the State Drums, as he is still very light, but he has been working well with the Riding Staff. He has also been a huge hit when parading with the Musical Ride, and has been very patient with his adoring public. Our horses are at the heart of our ceremonial commitments, which we mix with service in Afghanistan, and Digger has established himself as a real Regimental character."
Penny, a 14 year-old-Irish Draught mare is used by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery after being rehomed by the regiment from World Horse Welfare in 2001.
Penny was taken into Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre near Blackpool after being found extremely underweight and covered in lice. However, after successful rehabilitation and a real transformation she was rehomed to the King's Troop where she continues to take part in many high-profile ceremonial parades and events, including the Queen Mother's funeral.
One of the more famous horses which the charity cared for is Copenhagen. The black gelding joined the Household Cavalry based in Knightsbridge, London in 1975 and was present during the notorious IRA attack in Hyde Park on the men and horses of The Queen's Life Guard in 1982. Copenhagen suffered serious injuries but survived the blast and eventually returned to his duties.
After 14 years in the Household Cavalry he was retired to World Horse Welfare (known then as the International League for the Protection of Horses), where spent the rest of his days at our headquarters, Hall Farm in Snetterton, Norfolk.
General Manager at the time, Richard Felton commented on the kind of horse Copenhagen was: "A friendly soul, he enjoyed playing around with his companions and impressed everyone with his gentle nature. As a mark of the affection held for this horse his picture appears on the book cover of Debt of Honour, Jeremy James' story of the ILPH."
Despite his previous injuries and shrapnel still embedded in his body this gallant horse enjoyed a happy retirement at Hall Farm, Snetterton.