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Funeral horse pulling hearse dies mid-procession in Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 10:40 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:40 28 August 2014

A stock image of a funeral horse. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA images

A stock image of a funeral horse. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A grieving family were further distressed when a horse pulling a relative’s hearse dropped dead mid-procession.

Police and a fire crew were called at around 1.40pm yesterday to Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, following reports that the animal had fallen sick.

The firefighters from Hornchurch station left shortly later after realising they could not save the horse and officers called the RSPCA for assistance.

The road was closed for nearly two hours while the organisers, Harold Wood Funeral Services, of Chippenham Road, Harold Hill, arranged for the horse to be taken away.

Andy White, 46, from Dorset, said: “It was horrible. It was my wife’s grandad’s funeral and it upset us all.”

The procession continued by car and despite the incident, Mr White described the company as “fantastic”.

Ronnie, the deceased horse, was a middle-aged white carriage horse and was believed to be in good health, funeral director Carol Lawrence told the Recorder.

She said: “We are extremely sad to report the sudden death of Ronnie, a 14-year-old horse in service on the funeral in our care [on Wednesday].

“There was no indication of any poor health and he was regularly seen by vets.”

The director assured that there was no delay and the coffin was transferred from the horse-drawn cart and put in to a regular hearse that was part of the procession.

She added: “The bereaved family are very sympathetic and we have been in touch with them.”

Ronnie is receiving a private burial today in a field in the Essex countryside in the stables he lived in.

Eddie Baptste, 29, of Arisdale Avenue, South Ockendon, witnessed the horse’s collapse.

He said: “It’s always upsetting going to a funeral but when the horse falls dead it’s even more so.”

Did you see the incident? Contact Sam on 0208 477 3892 or sam.blewett@archant.co.uk

Read more:

House fire started by a squirrel disrupts funeral procession through Romford

‘Appalling and cowardly’: Injured horse left for dead in Upminster country lane

Abandoned horses found in Stapleford Abbotts

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