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Mounted Horses on the Beat

Only days after we welcomed Huntsman to the Home of Rest we are pleased to tell you that his last operational mission was a complete success.

After an amazing career with the Metropolitan Police Mounted Section (MET) Huntsman was loaned to Gloucestershire Constabulary to help with a pilot scheme to examine the value of a Mounted Unit as part of the neighbourhood policing service. The pilot scheme followed academic research by the RAND Institute and the University of Oxford two years earlier which showed that horses are a useful tactic.

The “Making Barriers and Breaking Barriers” report highlighted many insights but broadly that horses considered primarily as having a community role can also be used for public order duty and might be popular with the public and beneficial to the police. The sight and sound of a Police horse on patrol is reassuring to most and the research also suggested that children and young people who have been taught to be wary or openly abusive of the police, are far more likely to have a positive interaction with an officer on horseback.

Huntsman was one of four horses loaned to Gloucestershire Constabulary for their pilot scheme providing years of experience to the officers and horses alike.  As the pilot scheme ended and Huntsman was on his way to the Home of Rest his role was described as “instrumental”.

On the 22nd August, within a fortnight of his arrival Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed that Police horses will continue to be on patrol across the county following a decision to retain its mounted section.  Chief Constable Rod Hansen said;

“Whilst we must be pragmatic to our current financial situation, Gloucestershire should continue to deliver policing services in a variety of ways that give us the best chance to connect with our communities.  In a county so well known for its equestrian interests why wouldn’t we be proud to bring horses back into the mix?

We have to gain and retain the public’s trust not only by providing a professional service at times of crisis but also by being approachable and accessible at all times so that people feel confident in helping us.

Academic findings have shown that members of the public are six times more likely to engage with officers on horseback than officers on foot offering more opportunities for people to talk to us, and share what they know or suspect.

That for me was one of the most compelling reasons to retain the section.”


The decision to retain the section, made by the force executive board was supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire Martin Surl.

Well done Huntsman and well done Gloucestershire Constabulary.

A full transcript of the announcement is available on the Gloucestershire Constabulary web site.

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