Don’t Let Horses in Military Funerals Die for Their Service

Target: Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Goal: Take the helm in efforts to rehabilitate and save caisson horses from unnecessary injury and death.

The animals that are a fixture of funeral services at America’s most recognizable military ceremonies are at risk of death themselves. The U.S. Army has announced that it will suspend the use of horses that lead caissons (which carry coffins) on the trek to Arlington National Cemetery. This pause will last for one year, but experts suggest much more intensive measures need to take place for the horses’ well-being.

The practice first came under scrutiny in 2022, when two military horses used in the ceremonies died within only a few days. A subsequent report on the animals found dirty and cramped living conditions, a lack of quality food, and the presence of preventable illnesses that had apparently festered. It took a year, but the Army finally announced a plan that—including the extended hiatus—will provide horses more rehabilitation options, enhanced veterinary and herd care services, and more pastureland.

A continued lack of funding and a high turnover rate put this plan and their expansion in peril, however. Sign the petition below to urge commitment and investment to this cause from the highest chain of command.


Dear Secretary Austin,

The 3rd Infantry Regiment Caisson Platoon may carry fallen service members to their final resting places, but it has also reportedly put living beings at risk. According to recent investigations, well over half of the horses used to transport coffins during military ceremonies at Arlington suffer from serious health issues. This troubling report compelled the Army to extend its planned 45-day pause on horse-led caissons into a full year at veterinarians’ recommendations. Two horses had already lost their lives the previous year, with allegations of unsanitary and unsafe living conditions.

While the Army has announced a plan of action for rehabilitating these horses, funding shortfalls and routine changes in the chain of command will put this plan in peril. Honoring your long history with the U.S. Army, please commit to overseeing and investing in the repair, construction, and expert hiring that will be needed to make this life-saving effort come to fruition.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: J.D. Leipold

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