Tributes have been paid to a brave and gentle police horse who was a “lady to the end”.
Penwortham, of the Lancashire Constabulary mounted branch, was put down last month aged seven. The 17hh Spanish-Norman mare, a warmblood cross between an Andalusian and a Percheron, was first ridden by PC Jaime Robinson when she arrived with the force in January 2018, then PC Sarah Crook took over the ride in spring 2019.
PC Crook told H&H Penwortham had almost fully passed her training.
“She would go to the football games around Lancashire, but she hadn’t started going to what we call mutual-aid matches, where we support other constabularies outside Lancashire, just yet because she was quite ‘herdy’. She latched on to other horses; although she was very brave she liked a companion by her side,” she said.
“Last summer I took her to the Lytham Festival and she got to watch Rod Stewart. She was fabulous there, it’s quite a big thing for a horse with the loud music and crowds but she was absolutely super even with the grand finale fireworks.”
PC Crook said Penwortham was a popular horse on patrol, who “came into her own” in public order demonstrations.
“She had a really soft gentle nature and ticked all the boxes in the manners department. Children always warmed to her when we were on the street because she was so placid and would lower her head for them to stroke,” she said.
“When we did training with smoke and fire she was so brave, she would always go forward and trust her rider. The Lancashire high sheriff came to a demonstration where we used new-recruit foot officers to act as demonstrators so it was a good chance to show him what we did and a good opportunity for foot officers to see how effective mounted officers can be.”
Penwortham was one of the branch’s talented jumpers.
“She was a fantastic school horse,” said PC Crook.“A lot of mounted branches use heavy horses, and we do too, but we also have some more athletic ones. Jumping is part of our standard 16-week equitation course when an officer joins; they need to do a course of 2ft6 jumps which she was fantastic at so she will be a real loss.
“But she did have some little quirks – Blackpool is one of our main patrol areas and she would be quite funny when it came to other horses on the prom. She used to turn into 19hh when she saw them coming and wanted to chase them. Even though she had a police horse by her side she couldn’t figure out why this other horse was trotting away from her. There was something really quite funny about her.”
PC Crook said Penwortham started displaying a “pot-bellied” stomach a few months ago and on further veterinary investigation it was discovered the mare had an anatomical abnormality, which could cause food blockages and problems with her organs.
“It’s not very common and was purely down to an abnormality she could have had from birth which over time had worsened, and would continue to worsen,” she said.
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“The vets realised there was nothing else they could do for her and it was decided it was kinder to put her down. It was a real shock because we thought we would send her to the vet, they would find what it was and she would be back with us, but it couldn’t be helped.”
PC Crook said the loss was “incredibly sad” and Penwortham would be missed.
“You just don’t expect it,” she said. “The vets said she was so well behaved undergoing procedures, she never acted like something was wrong. She was an absolute superstar and such a gentle little lady to the end.”
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