Toronto police officers are mourning the loss of a gentle giant after Royal Sun, a horse in the force’s mounted unit, had to be put down after suffering a leg injury while on patrol downtown on the weekend.

The 16-year-old horse was patrolling with its rider around early Sunday in the Entertainment District when the animal tore a hind ligament, which led to a severe leg fracture, police said. The horse had to be put down due at an equine hospital, the mounted unit said, due to the “devastating” nature of the injury.

“It’s a very sad day for us,” Staff-Insp. William Wardle said in a statement.

“We look at the horses as members of our unit and it is our responsibility to care for them, so it’s difficult to lose them.”

Royal Sun was named after the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. A private memorial service for the animal has been planned. Service details haven’t yet been released.

Officers who patrolled with Royal Sun remembered the animal’s gentle spirit and protective nature.

“He was a big strong horse. He had a massive chest on him and a huge, muscular neck – he was just an awesome presence when you saw him on the road,” Const. Patrick Penney said in a statement.

“As big and intimidating as he could be, he was also the most gentle creature.”