A heroic police horse, that once rescued a drowning man, is enjoying early retirement at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

“Thornton”, who has served with the Lancashire Mounted Police for eight years, can no longer be ridden following a ligament injury.

The 13-year-old Irish draught X, known as “Bertie”, joined the mounted branch when he was five.

Although he quickly learnt to plant his feet to avoid schooling sessions, he rose to the challenge when on duty, attending countless football matches to help with crowd control and patrolling the streets of the Callon Estate to reassure residents after a shooting.

His big moment came in 2006, when PC Mick Tribley, galloped him into the sea to drag a drowning man to safety.

“Bertie was a fantastic horse,” Sergeant Christine Driver of Lancashire Constabulary told local papers.

“We had a great eight years service from him and he always rose to the challenge of policing the country.

“It was a very sad day when we had to retire him, but we hope he has a very happy retirement.”

Police tried to re-home Bertie, but when no one was able to take him on, they approached Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk.

Redwings’ senior welfare officer, Rachel Fairhead, said: “After assessment, we were delighted to offer Bertie a home.

“He has settled in well and we are quickly learning his cheeky tricks.”