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RIP King the Clydesdale: Tilles Park Winter Wonderland Carriage Horse Dies During Ride

Categories: Animals

winterwonderland.jpg
St. Louis County Parks via Facebook
A horse and carriage during Winter Wonderland.
For only the second time in 28 years, a carriage horse at one of St. Louis' favorite wintertime traditions, the Winter Wonderland Christmas lights display, has died -- this time during a carriage ride through Tilles Park.

King, a 22-year-old Clydesdale, was acting strangely just after pulling a carriage of holiday revelers into the lights show and died moments later, witnesses told Fox2Now.

"According to eyewitness accounts, the horse stopped, stretched and went down of an apparent heart attack," says acting St. Louis County Parks director Tom Ott in a statement. "We are saddened by the loss of this beautiful animal but truly believe it died of natural causes."

Jerry Kirk, who owns the farm that provides the horses and carriages, told Fox2Now he loaded the carriage himself just minutes before King died. He said the horse, which was regularly checked by a veterinarian, showed no signs of distress before his sudden death.

"The thing about these draft horses is they live to do this," Kirk tells Fox2Now. "That's what they're bred for. That's what they're here for. They love their work. They love to be out in public. They get all the attention."

St. Louis County and the Missouri Humane Society told Fox2Now the death appears to be unavoidable, of natural causes.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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47 comments
Jenny Farmer
Jenny Farmer

And we do not set our prices the parks do we actually don't even see even half of the money from the rides...

Jenny Farmer
Jenny Farmer

Also a fact that most people should know all our horses work for a few weeks and then get vaca out in a huge farm where they can be a horse and relax. All have nice large enough stalls to lay down in at night which are cleaned daily. He was loved and kissed on everyday and his well being was always first had he been acting funny or out of the ordinary we would not have even used him that night but he wasn't at all..just being his king self...he was a very sweet horse that is being missed greatly. And to state again as Alicia had said horse pictured above is not King or Tillis park so maybe you should all know all of the facts before you go bashing a very good company!

Denise Maxwell
Denise Maxwell

I read the article and the comments. So many ignorant people! I bet not one of those "cruelty" people has ever owned or cared for any working partner of another species. the Horse in picture was not a Clyde so I am inclined to believe that the reporter did not ' ask the right questions. Many a 36 year old horse still holds down jobs that they have done all of their lives. I hope that like King I can die peacefully at the end of my shift from heart attack. Better than starving, going lame, having disease, getting the long trip to Canada or Mexico as "valuable"meat or being sent to pasture at the altzheimers or hospice unit!

Alicia Seifert
Alicia Seifert

Riverfront times this is not a picture of our horse king nor is this picture even at tilles Park. Furthermore the gal who thinks king pulled a limo you are Wrong!! He only pulled a vis a vis. Holds max 6 people but that's usually 4 adults and kids or 2 adults. Not to mention your prices are wrong that was the years before cost for the large group which is pulled by 2 horses. That only make 5 trips a night. And to the other lady who said they were treated badly.... You couldn't afford the care we give them. Specialty shoes, senior feed with suppliments as the vet recommends them. Air ride equipped trailer. Alfalfa that's tested for protien content. Just to name a few. So get your facts straight before spewing hatred and ignorance.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

This never would have happened if they had turned this horse into glue 20 years ago, now the best they'll get out of it is some aldi's burgers and pre made lasagna.. Which is what you people screaming about animal cruelty are advocating, what do you think happens to a horse when it doesn't work? Know how much it costs to keep a horse? Not cheap. If they don't pull their weight they get killed and they like doing it, like a sled dog. Don't hear you all bitchin about Santa's reindeer.

Sj Braun
Sj Braun

who's in charge of this cruelty

Chris Ward
Chris Ward

There goes the King, there goes the Big Number One.

Sharon Johnson
Sharon Johnson

Mr. Kirk needs to be pilloried in the town square, in the cold. With older horses, it is a combo of pulling a big load and the really cold weather and an old heart. RIP King.

Ashley Ewert Klinginsmith
Ashley Ewert Klinginsmith

I'm so sad. King was the first horse that took our family through Tilles last year. RIP King.

Angi-la Red Cloud
Angi-la Red Cloud

i have never been on a carriage ride and refuse to support the practice. rip king

Denise Hahn
Denise Hahn

This is no surprise at all, considering how shitty these animals are treated and cared for. >=[

Patti Hughes
Patti Hughes

poor thing. finally gets to rest. RIP King! I almost took a carriage ride once. i couldnt because the poor horse look sooo tired.

Rosalind Hagedorn
Rosalind Hagedorn

How do you think your ancestors got around before cars? HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES!! if not for working horses you, and your people would not have survived.

del515s
del515s

90% of you are idiots. The avg age of death for a clydesdale is around 19 for a working stallion. You have no idea if the horse was unhappy with his profession. To live as long as he did, that horse had to be well taken care of. Quit throwing gas on a fire that doesn't exist.

Beth Milan
Beth Milan

I'm interested to know what King died of and why his caretakers weren't aware of his condition.

Carissa Stauffer
Carissa Stauffer

Blatant animal cruelty. No horse is bred to pull a heavy carriage, full of idiots. A horse is not meant to walk on pavement for long periods of time. Come on people!

Scott Shelton
Scott Shelton

The owner should be sited for animal cruelty. In the very least. But 10 to 1 nothing comes of it. Sad.

Patricia Ann Till Mueller
Patricia Ann Till Mueller

The carriage ride on the 20th was advertised as $10 a person and it stated the carriage held 10 people....multiply it (there could have easily been a TON of people weight if each person weighed 200 LBS, more or even less) and add the weight of that heavy carriage: No one this old horse had a heart attack!

Rachel Roach
Rachel Roach

This is bullshit, I'm so sick of the way animals are treated these days..only a few seem to care too..on this post though, I'm glad to see a lot actually do..

Patricia Ann Till Mueller
Patricia Ann Till Mueller

This horse should have been relaxing in a pasture by that age, that is a HUGE carriage and I bet it had been loaded down with people.....Check the prices out they are asking for that carriage ride!!.....And the IDIOT owner states " that was what the horse was bred to do and just LOVES it" What a line of crap!! The owner should have said "making $$$ for me is the ONLY thing I am interested in, NOT the welfare of my horses!!"

Brian Villa
Brian Villa

They don't have Clydesdales. And 22 is too damn old for a horse to be working.

Gatlin Cross
Gatlin Cross

Maybe someone should Really look into how these animals are treated.

Epona
Epona

Most caring owners find lighter work for their older horses to do. Pulling heavy loads repeatedly in freezing temperatures is not the kind of work an older horse should be made to do--if his owner cares about him.

But judging from your post, you are the kind of person who would work a horse to death and not give a fig about it.

Epona
Epona

Guess you have never heard of he expression "worked to death," huh?

Epona
Epona

@del515s HA! Twenty-two is not THAT much older than 19. Maybe King would have lived even longer if he hadn't been hauling a cariage with up to 10 people at a time in it in freezing cold weather. Wonder how many rides he had alredy done and how long they each were before his heart gave out.

BTW 22 for a horse is equal to age 65 for a man. How many 65 year old men do you know who do very heavy outdoor work in freezing weather without any ill effects?

Epona
Epona

So true. This horse was TOO OLD to be pulling THAT kind of weight in in temperatures THAT cold. In this case, the combination was leathal for King. Twenty-two years of age for a horse is the same as 65 years of age for a human.

bree_z_636
bree_z_636

A Clydesdale is a draft horse and is breed to do that type of work.  the humane society states it was natural causes, they seem like they have a animals best interests at heart

Epona
Epona

At $10 per person with a capacity of 10 people, that owner was making $100 for every trip that horse made. Wonder how many trips King made that night before he dropped dead.

bree_z_636
bree_z_636

What is the life expectancy for this type of horse?

Epona
Epona

@bree_z_636  Many breeds of drafts live into their mid-twenties, but some live into their 30s. The point is that for a draft horse, age 22 is like age 65 for a human. When people age, they are allowed usually to slow down and do less heavy work. That was not the case for King, apparently. Horse cannot choose to avoid heavy work, their owners choose what kind of work they do. If their owners do not look out for them, they end up dead like King.

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