A 20-year-old stallion of the Delhi mounted police, which had participated in the cavalry sport tent-pegging in front of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, died last week at a veterinary hospital in Hisar after a prolonged illness. The horse, which went by the name ‘Great’, was adept at sports and came in fourth at tent-pegging in the all-India police sports meet held at Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, in December 2015, an officer said. “That was his last sports performance,” the officer added. The brown-coloured stallion was brought in from the Army in 2003 when it was six years old.
Great served with the Delhi Police for 14 years and participated in at least 50 sporting activities across the country as well as ceremonial functions in the city. “The average age of retirement for a horse is 16-17 years,” said the officer. A rider told The Indian Express, “Great had received excellent schooling and training. The animal was well-mannered and calm. We did all we could to save its life.” “The illness lasted a month, during which the horse became so weak that it could barely stand,” he added. Police said they are yet to ascertain the cause of death.
Great’s body was handed over to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation for burial. Officials said the horses’ meals consist of a mixture of barley, Bengal gram and the animal feed choker. In the evening the animals are usually given grass “as a supplement”. Each horse has a handler who belongs to the rank of a constable or head constable.
About 30 horses are kept at the stable yard at the provisioning and logistics unit of Delhi Police in Civil Lines, while three are at Kalkaji police station in south Delhi. Officials said that the Civil Lines stables used to have about 80 horses in the 1980s.
For the past decade, no new horse has been inducted into the unit, and the number has been decreasing with each year. A mare retired in December 2014, four stallions in September 2016, and two more horses earlier this year. A stallion, Bhima, that had been in service for 16 years, died after a brief illness in June 2015. The sanctioned strength of such horses is 95.