A police horse who led the procession at Royal Ascot has retired to join his stablemate at equine charity for ex-service horses.
Samson, who was with Thames Valley Police’s mounted section for five years, arrived at The Horse Trust on Tuesday (10 January) to start his retirement.
Since joining the force in 2011, the 18.2hh grey gelding has served at demonstrations, football matches and Royal Ascot, as well as patrolling the Thames valley.
“He has more than earned his retirement — it is always quite emotional when they go off for their retirement because you do form a bond with them,” PC Laura Webb told H&H, adding Samson was the first horse she was allocated on joining the mounted section three years ago.
The 16-year-old was bought by police from a falconry centre in Hampshire, where he had been ridden in displays.
“He was used to crowds and settled into the situation really quickly,” added PC Webb. “He soon became one of our best horses — he was Mr Reliable.
“For us it was great to be able to get a horse that had some experience of crowds.
“It was nice for them as well that he went to have another career.”
Samson was stabled next to a police horse named Caesar, who retired to The Horse Trust after 11 years with the police in 2016, and the pair were the largest in the force.
“It is hoped in time that they might be reunited,” said PC Webb.
“Samson is a lovely chap, very polite — he would always be the one who would whinny at you in the morning.
“If he was given a treat for a good few minutes afterwards he would lick his lips and stick his tongue out.”
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PC Webb added one of her proudest moments was riding Samson as one of the front pair of police horses who led the royal procession at Royal Ascot in June.
“You cannot describe that moment,” she said. “It makes you fell really proud of what you do and what the horses do too.”
Another memorable moment came when Samson helped her to catch a suspected shoplifter in Milton Keynes.
The suspect ran out of a shopping centre, but PC Webb and Samson caught up with him and detained them until back-up arrived.
“He was just brilliant — [I think] animals know, he knew what his job was and he knew he had to stand still,” she said.