Angela Stokovic on duty with Sir Forest

Charlie, a Dedicated SES Mounted Section Member For 15 Years

In 2002 Angela Stokovic was searching for a tall, dark and handsome man when she was introduced to Charlie. Charlie was a seven-year-old, 16.3 ¾ hand, off the track thoroughbred, looking for his partner of a lifetime. It was a perfect match, and 18 years later Charlie and Angela are still together.

Charlie, race name Sir Forest, showed a lack of racing talent early and never recorded any race starts or trials.

Angela and Charlie began as eventing prospects, but it soon became apparent that their strengths lay in other areas.

The pair joined the State Emergency Services (SES) Mounted Section in 2002 and together were dedicated members until Charlie was ready to retire in 2017, at 22 years of age. Over their 15 years of service, the pair joined many search and rescue efforts, covering around 300 kilometers, across more than 15 searches.

Angela said Charlie’s first lesson when joining the SES was learning to enjoy a slower pace after his short-lived racing career. As part of their duties, SES horses are often required to stand and wait for long periods during searches.

Charlie brought some valuable skills with him from his racing preparation to the SES Mounted Section.

“He already had good social skills, he could work in close proximity, lead well, and worked well at speed in a group.” Angela said.

The Mounted Section’s Local Manager, Natalie Beard, says that out of the 12 to 15 Mounted Section horses, there’s nearly always three off the track members and that their experience as race horses contributes to their suitability

“Off the track horses have often been exposed to situations that other horses would not find themselves in, such as race day crowds and noise,” Natalie said.

“This exposure to situations can certainly add to their suitability as valuable members.”

Charlie proved himself a leader, bravely guiding the team through hazards such as water crossings, bridges and drains when other horses were hesitant. Natalie attests to Charlie’s qualities as a calm, friendly and reliable team leader.

“Charlie is a very chilled horse, your average friendly gelding that doesn’t worry about much, especially the mares pulling faces at him,” she said.

“He was brave enough to push through and do things as needed when asked, this also reflects the relationship and trust he had with Angela.”

Charlie’s experience and personality helped new members over his years of service.

“Charlie was also a great horse to pair up with newcomers and horses that were a little anxious as he did not get uptight and his calming influence, perhaps by sheer size, always seemed to rub off on others.” Said Natalie.

While making a career out of assisting the SES with finding lost and injured people, Charlie also joined Angela at pony club and in the Blackwood Marathon. Charlie especially enjoyed competing in the Blackwood Marathon during which he gave Angela a steady, reliable ride.

Charlie’s last hoorah was representing the WA Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service at the 2018 Australasian Emergency Services Games in Dressage.

Angela and Charlie’s long and dedicated service will not be forgotten.

“Charlie was definitely one of those horses in the unit that you could always rely upon and has been sorely missed since his retirement.” Natalie said.

To this day Charlie remains on the family property, still enjoying hacks out, flat work and beach trips.