Four police horses – who have notched up nearly 50 years’ service between them – are retiring to The Horse Trust’s sanctuary in Buckinghamshire.

Three of the horses – Nickleby, Oliver and Fairfax – helped to police the summer riots in Manchester City Centre. They will be joined by a fourth, Jack, who was not involved in the riots as he was recuperating from an injury.

Ann Firth, head groom at Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said they would leave a big gap in the force’s stables.

“All four horses will be hugely missed,” she said. “But after over a decade pounding the streets of Manchester, it’s lovely that they’ll get to be horses again and spend their days grazing in the fields at the sanctuary.”

Nickleby, a 16.3hh grey and Oliver, a 16.2hh chestnut horse, have both given 13 years’ service to the GMP. Fairfax, a 16.3hh bay horse has given 10 years’ service, while Jack, a 16.3hh grey, has clocked up 11 years.

The horses are retiring as they can no longer be ridden. Nickleby, Oliver and Fairfax suffer from osteoarthritis, while Jack has a suspensory ligament injury.
Their distinctive names come from the GMP’s policy of naming its horses after characters in Charles Dickens’s novels.

The one exception is Jack – full name, Jack Priday – who is named after a farrier who worked for the GMP for 35 years until he retired at the age of 84 in 1991. There is always one horse in the GMP stables named after Mr Priday in honour of his work for the force.

Ms Firth said the four were “big, brave horses that everyone loves riding as they know they’ll be safe.

“They are stalwarts of the Mounted Branch. They’re often the first to be selected for an operation as they can be used for all types of work and nothing scares them.”

Jeanette Allen, chief executive of The Horse Trust, said her staff would reward the horses’ “loyal and brave service” by giving them the “loving care” they needed for the “remainder of their years”.