THIS week a famous army horse will bid farewell to his two-legged brothers in arms with a kiss before he trots into retirement after 19 years of service.
Thomas, a 22 year old gelding, and one of the oldest horses in the Household Cavalry, is famous for giving kisses to the men of the Life Guard Squadron in his stables at Hyde Park Barracks.
When offered a polo or apple Thomas will deliver huge sloppy kisses in gratitude for his treat. He has snogged colonels, weather girls and celebrities. Before the Diamond Jubilee he took a liking to TV Presenter Phillip Schofield and ‘frenched’ him on camera.
Over 19 years’ service Thomas has seen Troopers become Corporals Major and Lieutenants become Colonels. He has served on numerous state occasions including the Golden Jubilee, the latest Royal Wedding and now the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics. Next week Thomas will find rest in Berkshire with Farrier Corporal of Horse Michael Woods. Michael, a serving Household Cavalryman and trained farrier, fell in love with Thomas when he rode him as a Trooper on first joining the regiment. Michael has forged a strong bond with Thomas over the years.
Michael said: “He’s a warrior horse. He never complains or makes a fuss. He just gets on with the job and makes us look good on parade. That’s what’s important at the end of the day.” “When he comes to us I’m going to turn him out in the fields for a year so he can really relax and just be a horse. After that I will start to do some light riding with him”, added Michael.
Although he has earned his rest he will be sorely missed by all ranks of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Trooper Nicholas Baines, 27, has been grooming and riding Thomas since he completed riding school in November. Nicholas, from Castleford in Yorkshire, said: “Thomas is a big flirt. I’ve had more kisses from him than I have from girls over the last few months. We will all miss him when he’s gone.” Troop Leader, Captain Charlie Fitzroy, 28, said: “When I moved from the operational side of the Regiment to the ceremonial side I was given Thomas to ride for the 20 week riding course.
“I’d rather go back to Afghanistan than do the riding course again. It was really hard work but Thomas got me through it. He is such a well mannered horse.” Thomas, a ‘Cavalry Black’, is such an iconic and good looking horse that he was used as the model for the Animal War Memorial in Park Lane as well as featuring in the regiment’s new book, ‘Uniquely British’, which is raising funds for the Household Cavalry Foundation,