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‘As brave as they come’: heartbreak as retired police horse put down

An “exceptional” retired police horse, who was “as brave as they come”, has died aged 23.

The Horse Trust paid tribute to Albert, who was put down on 10 March after a short illness.

Albert arrived with the charity in 2015 after his retirement from the Thames Valley Police mounted branch, which he served for 10 years.

Credit: The Horse Trust

A spokesman for the Horse Trust said Albert was an “exceptional” police horse who patrolled cities and towns throughout the Thames Valley area.

“He worked numerous football matches including Reading, Oxford United, MK Dons and Wycombe Wanderers,” she said.

“He also worked alongside neighbouring forces including Leicester, Swindon, Brighton, and Northampton. Police horses who worked at these matches were often the bravest as some could occasionally result in disorder and pitch invasions – Albert was as brave as they come.”

During his varied career Albert attended public order demonstrations and concerts, including Oasis and Green Day at the Milton Keynes Bowl.

“He even stepped up to royal duties, escorting The Queen at the Royal Ascot races, and the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Household Cavalry during state visits to Windsor,” said the spokesman.

“In 2014 Albert was a finalist in the RSPCA and Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards, recognised for his bravery.”

The spokesman said the “difficult decision” was made to retire Albert owing to lameness issues.

“Albert was very much loved by all the team and everyone who had met him while he was out on duty. His doting lead groom at the time described him as ‘the prettiest horse in the world’ and we could see exactly why,” she said.

“On arrival at the Horse Trust, it was safe to say Albert made his presence known. He towed his handler off the lorry as if to say, ‘I’m home!’ and from that moment we immediately fell in love with the gorgeous fella.”

The spokesman said on one occasion, at the charity’s Horses, Hounds and Heroes event a few years ago Albert made his presence known.

“He decided he didn’t want to be tied up and stand like the sensible police horse he was and bolted away. We couldn’t help but giggle at the fact the younger horses were all stood looking on in despair as the elderly officer with years of experience was carting around the field at speed,” said the spokesman.

“And that is why Albert was so loved, as his age never got in the way of his big cheeky personality.”

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The spokesman added that as he struggled to adapt to herd life at the charity, Albert moved to a private foster home where he spent the rest of his years.

“Our hearts and condolences go out to them and we thank them for looking after him. Our horses’ welfare and health are always our top priority and we know he was very happy in his foster home and was smothered with love,” said the spokesman.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honour to offer Albert this bespoke retirement. A true local hero who will always be remembered, not only for his bravery but the smiles he has brought to many. Sleep tight special boy.”

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