SFPD Horse Dies Ten Days Before Retirement

A beloved SFPD Mounted Unit veteran horse who passed away ten days before his scheduled July 18th retirement was honored Thursday.

By Erika Conner
|  Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012  |  Updated 5:18 PM PDT
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SFPD Horse Dies Ten Days Before Retirement

A beloved San Francisco police veteran horse and "leader of the herd" who died ten days shy of his retirement was honored Thursday, along with his living partner Riddler, at a Union Square ceremony.

Charlie, a member of the esteemed mounted unit patrol, died July 8 from an intestinal infection.  He was a 20-year-old, 1,500 pound, Clydesdale-American Quarter Horse cross gelding who had been with the department since 2002.

Most domesticated horses live to between 25 and 30 years old. 

"He was huge... he was 400 pounds bigger than the other horses," said Lee Houskeeper, who is handling public relations for the event. "Officer [Matthew] Castgnola is a big guy so they were quite an imposing pair for a long time."

Houskeeper saw Charlie just a few days before he died, and said: "He looked as strong as a horse."

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr presented a lunch bucket of carrots and apples to Riddler, in a ceremony where Charlie was honored posthumously.

The owner of historic Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant and Sports Bar, Nick Bovis, nailed their shoes above his front door in San Francisco.  

After the ceremony, Riddler, a 19-year-old American Quarter Horse with 12 years of service to the SFPD, was poised to be whisked away to spent his retirement years on a bucolic 40-acre Sonoma County pasture.

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