A 13-year-old horse attached to the city’s Mounted Police Force died of a suspected sun stroke after it collapsed in its stable located on Adithanar Salai at 7 15 am on Tuesday.
Star Force, a thoroughbred horse that was part of a 25-member family in the city, was moved to Madras Veterinary College where the Vets pronounced the animal dead and a post mortem was conducted on it. The body was disposed at the Kodungaiyur dumping yard later in the day.
The horse, when it was about eight years old, was inducted into the force on February 24, 2008, as a donation from MAM Ramaswamy, a race baron and industrialist, after it had taken part in several races.
According to a senior police official, the horse was rested for about a month’s time ever since it showed symptoms of weariness. “The animal that we lost today (Tuesday) was worth over `12 lakh,” the official added. Though the cops assigned the reason for the animal’s death to the age factor, the horses, in fact, could not tolerate the soaring mercury levels, according to one handler.
The primary duty of the Mounted Guards in the city is to patrol the shoreline with eight horses in the evening to ensure that everyone venturing beyond the shoreline was moved ashore and to regulate traffic in the service lanes on the Marina Beach in the morning hours to ensure safe and free passage for the morning walkers. From Egmore, the horses with its riders would take about an hour to reach the Marina before they began patrolling the stretch that extended from Anna Square to the Light House. The Mounted Police had about 10 horses, including a few mares, which belong to the age group of 11 to 15 years, considered the ‘aged’ ones.
Making this lot last the summer, handlers agree, would be a tight rope walk as the exhausted animals would be more prone to sun stroke. “We have 25 handlers, including seven women, to take care of the horses and their number will come down since we have lost another animal. Last summer, we lost two animals of which one died on its way to hospital and the other collapsed just like Star Force at Egmore right after duty,” according to a top official.