Adjustments coming just after Arlington Countrywide Cemetery suspends use of horses due to well being concerns

Arlington, Virginia — The horse-drawn caisson for funerals at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery is just one of this nation’s most solemn and majestic rituals. 

But again at the secure, a 10-second movie of a horse named George collapsing to the floor painted a distinctive picture.

“When I touched George’s neck, he fell to his knees, which is a really abnormal reaction in any horse,” Maj. Beth Byles, a veterinarian for the horses, advised CBS News. “And I’ve in no way encountered these a distressing horse.”

Byles stated he just buckled beneath the ache.

“He did, yeah, it was surprising,” Byles stated.

CBS Information attained photographs of other horses with scars from wearing ill-fitting harnesses and saddles although pulling a 2,600-pound caisson.

“They have been all struggling from critical musculoskeletal injuries, neck suffering,” Byles said.

Burial at Arlington National Cemetery with coffin carried on horse drawn caisson
A burial at Arlington Countrywide Cemetery in Virginia, with a coffin carried on horse-drawn caisson.  March 26, 2018.

Visions of The us/Common Photos Group through Getty Visuals

The horses were being supposed to work for two months and then consider two weeks off. But some ended up doing work 6 weeks straight. Troopers with restricted coaching failed to figure out the trouble, and higher-ups didn’t listen.

“Educating the chain of command on how to consider the suitable steps was a problem,” Byles reported.

In February 2022, the deaths of two horses inside of 96 several hours prompted an Military investigation that established conditions ended up “unsafe.”

In May possibly, the Military paused the use of horses major caissons for 45 times. In June, it prolonged that suspension for a comprehensive 12 months to give the horses time to recover.

At the time, 27 Arlington horses were sent to various rehabilitation amenities, the Military mentioned, and the horses had been replaced with hearses.

At rehab, the horses acquired therapies like chilly water soaks for their aching limbs.

“There was a whole lot of function to be accomplished,” said Monique Hovey, who was brought in as a new herd manager.

She explained she started getting rid of saddles whose patterns dated again to Entire world War I.

“Not only can it trigger ache along their spine because from how narrow it is, but there was a rub occurring on this horse,” Hovey described.

Now there are new saddles and some new horses. Back in June, the Army reported it would take a look at out caissons that are 20% lighter, which would lessen their body weight down to 2,000 pounds.

Hovey phone calls the horses “soldiers with no voices,” but George claimed it all in that 10-next online video. A yr later, he continues to get treatment method at a rehabilitation center.  

“George is a situation of a results tale,” Hovey reported.

George will by no means go again to pulling a caisson, but horse-drawn funerals are scheduled to resume future 12 months.

“I do not at any time want to convey the horses again if they are unable to be taken treatment of correctly,” Byles stated. “I do fear that we might revert back again to the place we ended up.”

Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.