By Julia LeDouxMarch 3, 2016
Dogs and cats are not the only "furiends" who are looking for their "furever" homes.
Two horses from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment's (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon are now available for adoption.
Quincy is an 11-year-old male Black Quarter Horse who has been diagnosed with navicular disease.
"Navicular disease is a breakdown of the navicular bone or the tissue surrounding it, which makes him lame in his front feet," said Platoon Leader 1st Lt. Daniel Nicolosi. "With our mission in the cemetery, that doesn't really work for us, unfortunately, because he's a great horse."
The horses of the Caisson Platoon pull coffins carrying the remains of the fallen to their burial sites in Arlington National Cemetery.
Quincy's feet have very thin soles which make him sensitive to hard ground, Nicolosi continued, and the therapeutic shoes he must wear limit his ability to work as a Caisson horse.
"Quincy has a lot of character," Nicolosi said as he stood near the horse, who nodded his head up and down as if agreeing with his words. "Everybody loves him around here."
Nicolosi said horses are identified for adoption in one of three ways: If they are 10 years of age, have 20 years of service, or have any underlying medical condition that prevents them from meeting the platoon's mission.
"These guys are both under 10 years of service and under 20 years of age," said Nicolosi.
Kennedy is a 16-year-old male Black Standardbred who came to the platoon following a racing career. He was used as the Caparison (riderless) horse in funeral escorts and is in excellent health.
"He's a little more temperamental," Nicolosi said. "He works really well with experienced riders, but not really well with new riders."
A seven-page adoption form is available at http://go.usa.gov/cvStJ. Completed forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential adopters are initially pre-screened to make sure they have the proper facilities to care for the horses.
"We're looking for a home for these guys and not to go into the horse trade for them to be bought and sold, and bought and sold," Nicolosi.
Soldiers from the platoon will visit the facilities of the top three or four potential adopters and base their decision on their observations, he said.
"You can have an applicant that looks fantastic on paper from Oregon and someone who looks okay on paper from Virginia, but when you visit that facility, it turns out that Virginia facility that maybe wasn't as clean or as pretty and nice is really the best home. The visit is really going to be the determining factor."
Nicolosi said a potential adopter for Quincy should have experience in working with horses with navicular disease or a farrier who has experience with the disease.
"He can be ridden by children, adults, really anybody," he said. "He's not great right now on hard surfaces because it hurts his feet."
Kennedy's potential adopter should have plenty of horse riding and training experience in their background.
"Kennedy was used in the therapeutic riding program we had at Fort Belvoir," explained Nicolosi. "He's had experience working with disabled veterans."
Both Quincy and Kennedy have an anticipated lifespan of between 26 and 32 years, continued Nicolosi.
There is no fee to adopt either Kennedy or Quincy, but adopters are responsible for transporting the horses to their new homes.
Nicolosi said it's hard to say goodbye to any of the platoon's horses.
"We definitely bond with each and every one of these horses," he said. "All the guys love all the horses, but some of the Soldiers have favorite horses. There's a lot of guys who love Quincy and a lot of guys who love Kennedy. We'll definitely be sad to see them go. In the end, it's the right thing to do for these horses, and that's what we have to stick by."
More horses from the platoon will be up for adoption soon.
"Our focus for them is really going to be retirement homes, where they can relax and be part of someone's herd, someone's family," said Nicolosi.
Kennedy and Quincy will be at the stables on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base until they are adopted. Visitors can stop by and meet them during the stables walk-in tour hours, Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.
"We do have a really strict vetting process for every applicant," Nicolosi stressed. "If we don't find the best possible home for these guys, they will not be adopted out. We are very serious about these guys. It's not for the Army. It's not for the platoon. It's to get the horses to the best possible home."
Pentagram Staff Writer Julia LeDoux can be reached at email@example.com.