Thursday, August 09, 2007

I'm sitting here right now with a smile on my face because somewhere out in the lush green hills of Halton, there's a grizzled, road-weary police horse enjoying his first day in his new country home.

After almost 20 years of service to the city of Toronto, police mount General retired today. No fanfare, no party, no sloppy goodbyes, just the almost-ceremony of removing his heavy, studded street shoes and then walking out the doors of the stable for the very last time, into a waiting trailer.

He spent the night before last on Yonge Street, his last patrol, Caribana, the baking hot pavement, the crowds, the cars, after all his years on the street he was practically oblivious to all of them.

I'm sure he has a lot of stories, about the demonstrations, the 3am entertainment district forays, the freezing cold and the broiling heat, all of the horses bear it so stoically. General had pretty much seen it all. The last time I had to shoot
him for the trading cards, I noticed that he wasn't quite as centered as he usually was, he kept lifting his nose to the wind and looking off into some distance that only he could see. He was fidgety and a little cranky. I remember thinking that if
I'd been walking these streets for that long, I'd feel the same way. I started to wish for him to retire.

Well, today I got my wish. Thanks to the hard work of all the training officers at the unit, there are enough new horses to take over the shifts.

One of his old partners who lives on a farm and has been waiting years for him to retire, offered to take him and the deal was done. I went down to the stables to photograph his special day. At the last minute we decided we'd follow him all the way to his new home in the country. I'm glad we did, it was a really emotional moment for all of us who witnessed it. Backing him out of the trailer, meeting his old friend, getting let out into his pasture, who knows if he took it all in?

I'm sure it'll be a while before he adjusts to his life of leisure and his new pasture-mates, but once he does I'm going to go back out and visit him again. And try not to cry this time so I can actually get a good shot of him.

Congratulations General, many happy days of doing nothing but eating fresh sweet grass and galloping your pastures.

You've earned it.


Blogger dc¬≤ said...

Absolutely beautiful!!

8:48 p.m.  
Blogger Tdcompton said...

This brought tears to my eyes, he has indeed earned every beautiful day spent grazing and dozing off... I am sure that he will miss the life he has known for so much of his life, but I also know that he will never be forgotten by those he has served with.

12:15 a.m.  

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