Army extends Arlington National Cemetery’s horse use suspension to focus on rehabilitation

The tradition of using military horses during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia has been put on hold as the U.S. Army focuses on making some changes.

The initial 45-day suspension of caisson support went in place May 1, but has been extended through June 2024. Officials said the goal is to implement a long-term rehab plan for the horses. Some of the changes the Army plans to implement over the next year include promoting better health, hiring new trainers and improving facilities for the animals.

The suspension will only affect how remains are escorted to the grave site, and a hearse or cemetery representative vehicle will be used in the meantime.

A riderless horse will participate in some funerals later this month and by this fall. the Army said a horse with a rider will lead all ceremonies that would’ve been eligible for caisson support. All other elements of funeral honors, including the service band and firing party, will not change.

Some of the changes that have already been put in place include bringing on new horses to stabilize the herd, a reduced workload for the animals and a new network of experts from local universities.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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