Officers came to pay respect to a horse who put so much trust in them.
A memorial service was held at Thistletown Pet Memorial for police horse Viscount, an 18-year-old Black Percheron, who was euthanized on Christmas Day after complications from equine colic.
“Viscount wasn’t the bravest of horses, however he had enough trust in his rider that, if the rider believed that it could be done then, God-willing, Viscount would try his best to do exactly that,” recalled Training Sergeant Kristopher McCarthy.
McCarthy said Viscount was nicknamed “Barometer” by Mounted Unit members because he was the horse used to test new volunteers who wished to work at the Exhibition Place stables.
“We have to test them to make sure they are capable to ride our horses. And Viscount was always that horse that would tell exactly whether a person was able to ride or not. And I am sure there are several candidates who would love a second chance on Viscount,” said McCarthy.
Chief Mark Saunders joined officers and their horses in paying tribute at the outdoor ceremony in Uxbridge.
“To a loyal, dedicated officer of the law, who was majestic and beautiful, we have a created gap, one that will be felt, nonetheless at this moment let’s remember the good times,” said Chief Mark Saunders about Viscount, the only horse at the Mounted Unit the Chief rode himself.
51 Division Chaplain John Joseph Mastandrea said he will remember the horse for its service to the community.
“Four legs and harness, bringing courage on the way, knowing and walking with each rider, ready to risk, ready to move, ready to serve and protect for the Toronto Police Service,” Mastandrea said.
He said horses conjure a great awe and respect among people.
“There is something about them. You have a chemistry, a rhythm and harmony that comes together and I couldn’t help but think that Viscount as a creature that was full of life and full of possibility,” said Mastandrea.
As the Chaplain said a prayer for Viscount, he added that each person gathered had a memory of Viscount, and to share their memories was a way to allow Viscount to live on.
McCarthy read a poem by retired Mounted Unit officer Terry Phoebe, who wrote about police horses who have served and passed away:
I am a horse, who's taken no oath,
I patrol the city for hay and oats.
I work long hours rain or shine,
I am a Police Horse strong and kind.
Patrolling the streets can be mean and scary.
But I'm always brave, alert and wary.
I have not chosen this life of service,
Yet I do it Proudly, without malice.
I love the public and their adoration,
Their pats and praises welcome attention.
My shift has ended, my Duty done,
I'm off to safe pastures, to play and run.
My human partners are pained and distraught,
For they loved me dearly, but worry not!
I felt your care, and Love for Me,
My patrol has ended, and I am Free.