A former police horse who was deemed unsuitable for duty has triumphed at an international vaulting competition.

Islay, a 17.3hh black gelding, won a bronze medal for Great Britain at the FEI European Vaulting Championships in Kaposvar, Hungary last month.

He and vaulter 17-year-old Victoria McLaren from Stirling were competing in the junior female individual CVI* class.

He had been on loan to Liz Mackay from the Eagles Vaulting Group in Kinross, Perthshire, who said: “Islay was an absolute star from beginning to end – my head is still spinning.”

The 12-year-old has been cared for by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) since he left Strathclyde Police Mounted Branch in 2002. He had found police life difficult with a fear of loud noises and a reluctance to stand still at football matches.

Arriving at ILPH Belwade Farm in Aboyne, Scotland the gelding was discovered to be lame in a hind limb and suffering from painful back spasms. He underwent a year-long rehabilitation programme under the guidance of centre manager Eileen Gillen.

Eileen said: “We did lots of physiotherapy with him and he progressed so well after a year — and had such an excellent temperament — that we asked Liz if she would like to try him for vaulting. The rest is history.”

The British junior team finished in eighth place at the championships, but the senior team was withdrawn from the competition. Chef d’Equipe Jane Eccles said a ground jury member requested the team withdraw after seeing the horse stumble.