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Clydesdale carriage horse dies in Missouri’s Tilles Park at light show

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A Clydesdale carriage horse died suddenly as he pulled a carriage into the Winter Wonderland Christmas Light display in Missouri’s Tilles Park on Saturday night. News reports on Fox 2 and other media have circulated about the horse’s death since Dec. 23. Apparently the big horse began acting up and within just a few minutes, he fell and died shortly thereafter.

King, a 22-year-old Clydesdale, was bought by Jerry Kirk, owner of Brookdale Farms who provides the horses and carriages. Kirk has owned King four years possibly saving him from going to slaughter. At 22 years of age, King reached senior age for a large horse. All of Brookdale Farms’ horses are in good health and are vet checked regularly. Prior to King’s death, he showed no signs of distress or other problems. Kirk had just moments earlier loaded the passengers into the carriage while the horse waited patiently and calmly.

County officials find no fault in this incident and say the death of the horse could not be avoided. It was the horse’s time.

Tom Ott, acting parks director, published a statement stating:

According to eyewitness accounts, the horse stopped, stretched and went down of an apparent heart attack. We are saddened by the loss of this beautiful animal but truly believe it died of natural causes.

The St. Louis County Parks staff works with Brookdale to be certain that all of the horses are well cared for and are not exposed to any dangers. This is particularly true during bad weather conditions. They make all efforts to clear roads of snow, ice and slush and even cancel events if the public or the horses might incur danger. They say that Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park gives thousands of carriage rides annually. This has become only a second time in 28 operational years where a horse has been lost.

According to officials, media representatives or knowledgeable horsemen, King’s death seems to be due entirely to natural cause. There is no wrongdoing in his death.

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