Marco, on 01 May 2012 - 06:51 AM, said:
Poignant indeed. I believe I recently heard in a documentary that the caretaker of the horse had to remove its hooves when it was dead so he could proove it was dead? This led on occasions to some emotions where the caretaker had formed a bond with the horse/mule. The remains on show did not have hooves...
Not sure about supply horses, but cavalry troop horses were branded with a number on a hoof (not sure which but I think a front one), and the rider was supposed to bring the branded hoof back in the case of the animal's death, to prove he hadn't sold it, lost it or otherwise disposed.
However, I can't really see that working in the GW context, and the rider would certainly not be expected to remove all 4.
Again I suspect not relevant to the GW, but famous horses (such as Cardigan'ssplendid chestnut, "Ronald") tended to have hooves removed as mementoes; frequently they were turned into snuff boxes. HorsePower (the KRH Museum in Winchester) has one of Ronald's hooves, plus one of a horse named "Violette", which served with the 11th Hussars in the GW. She was sold to the officer whose mount she was (Lieutenant Hartman), who kept her until her death at the age of, IIRC, 22. Her hoof, silver mounted with a splendid inscription, now sits alongside her portrait, in the regimental museum.