Horse Heroes

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Commemorating the US World War One Centennial-
Honoring Yesterday's American War Horses by Helping Today's Working Equines

We Will Never Forget Them

Honoring Yesterday's American War Horses by Helping Today's Working Equines

In 2017 the United States is commemorating the U.S. World War One Centennial, marking the 100th anniversary of our entry into the war. For three years prior to our entry, the United States shipped approximately one million American horses and mules to Europe to assist the war effort as they worked for the British and French armies.

The first wave of American horses and mules arrived in France in October, 1914 - three months after the war began in Europe.

These animals carried men into battle and wounded men to safety. They carried food, water, medical supplies, ammunition, gun carriages and other supplies to the front lines across difficult terrain, in brutal weather, often surrounded by dead and dying men and animals. For peace-loving animals, the sights, sounds, and smells were as dreadful as they were for the men.

These animals provided immeasurable support to the military, and only 200 came home after the war.


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They did their part, in spite of being terrified and often while sick and wounded themselves, and they worked until they were annihilated by guns or poison gas, or simply died in their harnesses from exposure, disease, and sheer exhaustion.  In total, eight million horses died in WW1 on all sides, including hundreds of thousands of American horse heroes.

"Their contributions were enormous and so was their suffering; the terror that these animals must have experienced is incomprehensible. But without their loyalty and sacrifices on a massive scale, the war's outcome - and now the world - would be very different."  -- (Ret) Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Chairman, Brooke International


"Quite two thirds of the horses and practically all of the mules used in the British Army in France and the other theatres of war come from the American continent...
"What we should have done had not North America's vast contribution to the world's war horse supply been a real fact, goodness knows..." -- Capt Sidney Galtrey, author, "The Horse and the War"

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"Great as has been the success of the American gun horse, still greater, though perhaps less appreciated, have been the war qualities of the American mule...probably the most serviceable and satisfactory animal used in the war."  -- Brigadier-General T.R.F. Bate

"I believe that every soldier who has to do with horse or mule has come to love them for what they are and the grand work they have done and are doing in and out of the death zones. I want the public who have had no opportunity to know to share that admiration." -- Capt. Sidney Galtrey


The Betrayal

After having worked so willingly alongside brave soldiers, and miraculously survived the horrors of war, most of the remaining animals were discarded by their armies and given up for slaughter or sold into lives of hard labor and utter misery.

They went to work for owners in other countries with little - if any - compassion for these faithful old warriors or consideration for their noble contributions to the war or to civilization. 

They spent the rest of their unhappy lives laboring on the foreign soil where they had previously campaigned in the bloodiest war of the century.  


Then along came Dorothy...

Dorothy Brooke, the wife of British Army Major General Geoffrey Brooke, discovered that several thousand former WW1 horses who had served their countries with quiet dignity during WW1 had been abandoned in Cairo after the war.  These loyal animals had been sold into lives of unimaginable hardship, doomed to lives of unending toil and unspeakable misery, working for poor and merciless owners in Egypt in the early 1900s.

It was from this moment that Dorothy's life became dedicated to their welfare.

Learn more about Dorothy Brooke.


The First five Thousand

Dorothy Brooke set about buying back every old warrior that she could find in Cairo, and by the time that act of mercy was done she had rescued 5,000 war horses and brought a peaceful end to their suffering. She then started the "Old War Horse Memorial Hospital" and treated native Egyptian horses, mules, and donkeys, as well.

The tragedy of WW1 gave birth to a vision, and today the charity named in Dorothy's honor, Brooke, is the world's largest international equine welfare charity. It's American fundraising affiliate, Brooke USA, supports Brooke's equine welfare programs around the world.


Their Sacrifice, 
Dorothy's Legacy

Today there are approximately 100 million horses, donkeys, and mules supporting 600 million people in the developing world. It is estimated that 80% of those working equines are suffering from preventable problems.

Chronic exhaustion, dehydration, lameness, malnourishment, infectious diseases, crippling injuries, and beating -- these are just a few of the issues facing working equines in the developing world.  But for 83 years since Dorothy rescued her first war horse, Brooke has worked in many of the poorest countries on earth to alleviate the suffering of equines on whom those millions of people depend.

By providing scientifically proven, practical and sustainable programs, Brooke teaches owners how to improve the welfare of their animals.  They also provide free veterinary care for many those animals. Learn more about what Brooke does.


Millions have Been Saved

Last year alone, Brooke reached 2 million horses, donkeys, and mules across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America, directly benefitting 12 million people who depend on them.

Brooke trains veterinarians, animal healthcare workers, and other service providers such as farriers, harness makers, feed suppliers, and entire communities -- to elevate their skills so they can provide better care for the animals whose lives are inextricably tied to theirs.

Brooke USA helps to fund many of these programs through tax-deductible donations from U.S. donors.


One Million Horses, One Million Heroes, One Million Dollars

Dorothy Brooke saved five thousand; with your help, Brooke will continue to reach millions more

Our Brooke USA Horse Heroes campaign will support Brooke's goal of reaching additional millions of working equines who desperately need our programs to improve their welfare.

We want to honor the one million American equines who served in WW1 by raising one million dollars this year to support the continuation and expansion of Brooke's sustainable equine welfare programs, which will also benefit the people who depend on them.  We believe that it's a great way to honor the memory of all Horse Heroes, and especially our American war horses. Learn more about why Brooke does it.


Get the Shirts

These shirts come in a variety of styles and sizes to support our Horse Heroes campaign. They're understated and dignified to honor the animals we're remembering. Find out more and order:


See Who You're Helping when You Support our Horse Heroes Program!


"Old Bill" and The Medal

Upon meeting one of the first of her old war horses, Dorothy Brooke wrote about "Old Bill":

"I shall never forget the shock he gave me.  I stood staring at him.  Heaven knows the other horses were bad enough but somehow he was different. 
"Obviously he had been a good horse, once.  He had been happy and well fed as other horses had never been... He had moreover served in Palestine and had suffered hardships in that campaign as few horses have endured in modern times.  And then we had sold him into this."

World-renowned sculptor Alexa King created a likeness of Old Bill, the war horse who inspired Dorothy Brooke to begin her crusade to rescue the remaining WW1 horses in Egypt, which is featured on our Brooke USA Horse Heroes medal.

Former war horse "Old Bill" left an indelible impression on Dorothy Brooke's heart. He became the inspiration for her work to save all that remained of his fellow war horses in Cairo.

Former war horse "Old Bill" left an indelible impression on Dorothy Brooke's heart. He became the inspiration for her work to save all that remained of his fellow war horses in Cairo.

"Death and devastation made it a hell, the awful fires of which have not yet flickered out. So when you go out beyond and survey the duck-board tracks which lead to where our men are bearing the real burden and dangers of war, you think of our war beasts of burden that night after night traverse that foul and shell-torn country amid the loathsome vapours of the guns in performing their share in 'carrying on.' Can you wonder that there is a real affection for the horse and mule, and that they are indeed the friends of man at this tremendous crisis?"  -- Capt. Sidney Galtrey

HORSE HEROES:
Official Partner of the United States WWI Centennial Commission

We are very pleased to announce that the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has made Brooke USA’s Horse Heroes campaign an official Centennial Partner in remembering the contribution of America’s horses and mules to the war effort.

The Commission was established by the U.S. Congress under the World War I Centennial Commission Act. The role of the Commission is, among other things, to develop programs to commemorate the historic event and to encourage and facilitate the activities of private, state, and local organizations which are commemorating the centennial. President Obama signed the Act, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush are Honorary Chairs of the Commission.

“The Commission is pleased to endorse Brooke USA’s ‘Horse Heroes’ as an official partner. The Commission believes that Horse Heroes will further the Commission’s goals of educating the American people about the causes, courses and consequences of World War One, commemorating U.S. involvement in that war, and honoring the service and sacrifice of American servicemen and women in the war.”

“We are tremendously honored to be counted as an official Centennial Partner alongside several highly esteemed, national organizations, and we’re also grateful for the privilege of bringing the immeasurable impact that American horses and mules had on the war to the public’s attention.” -- Dr. David Jones, Chairman, Brooke USA


Do you have information to share?

If you have photos or documented information about America's horses and mules in WWI that you would be willing to share, we would appreciate it!  Just email Info@BrookeUSA.org.  Thank you! 


Additional Information

Sir David Madden, retired British diplomat and former British Ambassador to Greece and former Brooke USA board member, discusses Dorothy Brooke, the origins of Brooke charity, and the role of war horses:


We welcome Equus magazine and Active Interest Media as our Horse Heroes Media Partners:

EQUUS Magazine: Established in 1977, EQUUS magazine, published by the Active Interest Media (AIM) Equine Network, is a monthly publication based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Although focused primarily on horse health, care and training, EQUUS explores a broad range of topics related to horses and horse sports, including in-depth articles about the causes of racetrack breakdowns and the history of horse breed.

Active Interest Media: One of the world’s largest enthusiast media companies, Active Interest Media publishes leading consumer magazines such as Yoga Journal, Backpacker, SKI, Skiing, Vegetarian Times, Yachts International, Sail, Power & Motoryacht, Black Belt, American Cowboy, Spin to Win Rodeo, Practical Horseman, Dressage Today, EQUUS, Horse&Rider, Log Home Living, Old House Journal, Country’s Best Cabins and more. The company’s five divisions—the Equine Network, Home Group, Healthy Living Group, Marine Group and Outdoor Group—reach more than 40 million people in 85 countries. We also operate websites, B2B businesses, a state-of-the-art video unit, and Warren Miller Entertainment, the most successful outdoor film production company in history. Each of our divisions also runs consumer and trade events, including the world’s largest boat shows and yoga conferences. Active Interest Media’s customers are smart, engaged and loyal, and they look to our brands for trustworthy information and services that will inspire and enable them to enjoy their passions.


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