The mounted unit of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been playing host to a visitor from down under.

Head of the Western Australia Police (WAP) mounted unit senior sergeant Glen Potter spent ten days with the GMP observing how the Brits conduct their horseback neighbourhood and operational policing.

He learned about all facets of the GMP’s work, including the training of riders and horses, and the unit’s methods of deployment.

But he said one of the most valuable things he picked up was the importance of civilian support.

“The GMP’s grooms keep the place ticking over here. We don’t have any back home — the police officers do their own grooming. So I’m going to implement a programme to recruit some when I get home,” he said.

He had also been looking at GMP’s saddlery which he thought was more suitable than the tack used by Australian mounted forces. GMP conduct regular checks of each saddle to ensure it’s correctly stuffed and fitted for the particular horse it’s used on.

Sgt Potter said: “Our officers spend a long time in the saddle, and often the horse is just standing still. We need saddles that cover a greater surface area of the horse’s back so there’s a wider weight distribution and fewer pressure spots.”

He added that he hoped his hosts had in turn picked up some tips from him.

“They showed an interest in our shoeless horses,” he said. “About 60% of our animals don’t have shoes now — they wear a rubberised boot that goes over the whole of the hoof. It prevents them from slipping on wet surfaces which can cause them to lose confidence.”