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Huntsman arrives after 13 years Police service

Here’s handsome Huntsman, another of our newbies. He has had an amazing career. He’s a 20-year-old 17hh Irish Draught who spent most of his working life with the Metropolitan Police Mounted Section (MET). Then, a couple of years ago, the police nationally commissioned an exciting piece of research looking at the role of police horses now and into the future.

Traditionally police horses have been categorised primarily for public order duties and then do some community policing secondary to that, community policing. As the country has changed, there have been fewer calls on horses to work in public order situations than perhaps there were in the 1970’s and 1980’s and as a result a number of mounted sections have been closed down at local level.

This research found that horses considered primarily as having a community role who can also be used for public order duty might be popular with the general public and beneficial to the police. For example, law abiding folk living in challenging areas hear a clip clop, that can only mean a police patrol, they wouldn’t notice officers on foot or in a car whilst in their homes, so the sound is hugely reassuring. Also in many cases the research showed that children and young people who have been taught to be very wary or even openly abusive of the police, are far more likely to have a positive interaction with an officer on horseback.

This is where the report got its name, “Making Barriers and Breaking Barriers.” As a result four horses were seconded from other forces to work in Gloucestershire for the very first time to see what the results were after introducing police horses to an area that had never had them. Huntsman was one of those chosen and now that 2 year pilot is over, he’s retiring to us.

We are awaiting the next stage of the report to find out what the future of mounted police sections might be. Well done Huntsman for helping such a vital study and now it’s time to kick back and enjoy yourself!

Huntsman has been a firm favourite throughout his working life. As he left The MET to take part in the pilot scheme in Gloucestershire, his last assigned rider PC Dave Cooke said, “Huntsman (Police Horse 58) was already 8 years old when he began his training. Adapting very quickly to the role, he was soon able to cope with whatever was asked of him. In the 10 years of operational work that followed, what was asked of him ranged from dealing with large demonstrations, aggressive football fans, New Years’ Eve revellers and main street carnivals, to village fetes, school visits, open days and ceremonial duties. He was able to take part in numerous State Visits, two Jubilee celebrations and one Royal Wedding. He also policed the London 2012 Olympics at The Olympic Park as well as the equestrian events at Greenwich. Patrolling one of the busiest capital cities in the world often meant hours of travelling in horseboxes, which he did with very little complaint, even when those horses around him did.”  Age and lameness have caught up with him but as PC Cooke said, “It was a pleasure and fun working with him and I sincerely wish him all the best for a future he richly deserves.”

 Here’s what Gloucestershire Police said on Facebook on his retirement.

Welcome to the Home of Rest Huntsman, there are plenty of old buddies for you to catch up with.

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