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Equine balm

12 October 2012

FLANKED by two mounted police officers - PC Angela Parr (right) and PC Alan Ford - Canon Godfrey Hirst began his short service for Horseman's Sunday by remembering PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone, who had been killed on duty in Manchester a few days before.

About 40 horses and their riders had gathered for the service at Penny Farm, the World Horse Welfare centre near Blackpool, in Blackburn diocese. They sang "All things bright and beautiful" and "Jerusalem", and Canon Hirst, known as the "Cantering Canon", blessed each horse individually.

He also read out an email of good wishes from a columnist on The Times, Melanie Reid, who broke her neck and back in a riding accident two years ago. Ms Reid, with much difficulty, had been able to ride again, on "dear Nelly", and said in her email that she agreed with Canon Godfrey that horses were "balm to the soul".

After the service, most of the riders took part in a three-mile ride around the farm, which, Canon Godfrey says, is "a most wonderful place". Neglected or ill-treated horses are cared for, and, where possible, rehomed. All who completed the course received a commemorative rosette.

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