A new police horse named in honour of the late Duke of Edinburgh and described as a “golden boy” already has officers staking their claim as he embarks on his training.
Last month 12-year-old Dutch warmblood Charlie successfully passed his trial period with Northumbria Police. The gelding has since received his official police horse name, Prince, after Prince Philip.
Prince’s trainer PC Bev Crain told H&H the force had “scoured the country” looking for a suitable horse.
“We were looking for a horse that had a bit of life experience and was already used to traffic. We went to see Prince in Alnwick after seeing him advertised and he was just a golden boy,” she said.
“He had done hacking, hunting and eventing with his owner and he was just really quiet and sensible. He came in on trial and during that time we took him out on local patrols and he wasn’t fazed by anything.”
Prince will undergo training, which PC Crain suspects could only take six months.
“If we get a five- or six-year-old it takes a bit longer because they maybe haven’t seen as much but with Prince being 12 he’s that little bit older and seen more. We’ve started introducing him to Newcastle city centre, which is our biggest city in Northumbria. In the future we will do public order training with him where he’ll join the rest of the section and learn all the tactics,” she said.
“It’s my responsibility to get him out and about seeing as much as we can and once I think he’s at a level he can be ridden by anyone on the section, he’ll be handed over to a new rider for them to take on his continued training.”
Bev said Prince is a “very friendly” horse, who is doing well in his new career.
“He’s so chilled and he loves his food; he always whinnies for his breakfast in the morning. He’s a real sweetheart and a gentleman,” she said.
“Everybody has their favourites and there’s quite a few officers bidding for Prince to be their allocated police horse.”
The mare replaces 22-year-old Breeze, who retired in September last year following 11 years with the force
“Normally it takes 12-18 months to fully train a police horse but Bess got through the training in 12 weeks.
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The force is looking to recruit one or two more horses.
“We’re always searching online, or ads on Horse & Hound to try to find new horses, as are many of the mounted sections at the moment. The problem we find is because we take them on trial for four weeks it puts a lot of people off because people can more or less sell their horse straight away in the current market,” said PC Crain.
“It takes a special horse to do our job so it’s very difficult trying to find them – they’re like hen’s teeth. They’ve to have the right temperament and personality. We’ve had horses in and you ask a question and it’s too much for them, so it’s finding something that is calm but brave and forward-going because we’re asking them to go into situations where others might turn and run. It’s a massive trust thing between the horse and rider.”
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