The eight Percheron horses will be used to pay homage to fallen soldiers in ceremonies.
The H. J. Heinz Company announced today that it has donated the eight Percheron horses formerly used as part of the Heinz Hitch program to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) where they will be used to pay homage to fallen soldiers in the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.
This donation will ensure that the horses are well cared for the rest of their lives while honoring our country’s fallen soldiers and veterans,” said Michael Mullen, Director of Global Corporate Affairs for the H. J. Heinz Company.
The Heinz horses will participate in some of the eight full-honor military funerals per day at Arlington.
The new posts also have their perks. Each of the eight Percheron horses will a have full-time, dedicated caretaker and veterinarian and they will join the more than 50 horses already stationed at Fort Myer, VA.
“It’s fitting that our country’s finest will be carried to rest by such a noble breed of horses, the same that once carried knights into battle,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Light, Caisson Platoon leader with The Old Guard. “We’re truly grateful for Heinz’s unique gift.”
The Percherons will be members of the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which is the United States Army’s official ceremonial unit.
During a funeral procession, six horses form a team that pulls a flag-draped coffin upon a caisson throughout Arlington National Cemetery.
The eight Percheron horses are more than up to this task, generating more than 16,000 pounds of raw horsepower. On several occasions, they’ve been known to pull a 30,000-pound Rose Parade float with no complaints.
Originally from the Perche region of France, Percherons are the only line of heavy horses not originally bred as draft horses. The horses first appeared more than 1,000 years ago and are a cross between Arabian Stallions and Flemish Plow Mares.
They were bred specifically to blend power, agility and speed. These attributes made the Percherons favored horses for carrying knights confidently into battle.
Today, Percherons are enjoying a renewed popularity among horsemen for their gentle nature, power and control.
Regal Relic Retired
Heinz discontinued the traveling Heinz Hitch program in early 2006 as it switched its focus to more contemporary consumer marketing. In July, the Heinz Hitch wagon, a replica of a historic 1800s-era horse-drawn grocery cart, was donated to the Senator John Heinz History Center, and is currently on long-term display in the Center’s first-floor Great Hall.
The Hitch was showcased at parades, fairs and expositions throughout the United States and Canada, including high-profile events like the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day Parade.
It is with a great sense of pride for all of American as these eight Percherons assume their Duty with the Department of the Army to pay tribute to our country’s heroes.
Earlier Post: Famed Heinz Hitch Now History