A brave police horse who has been “absolutely brilliant”, is being retired next month after a decade of working at demonstrations and football matches across the Thames Valley.
Albert, an 18-year-old 17hh skewbald Irish draught cross thoroughbred, is the longest serving horse in Thames Valley Police’s mounted section.
He has worked at animal rights marches, English Defence League (EDL) demonstrations, football matches, pop concerts, Royal Ascot events and in city centres across the Thames Valley.
Homebred in Herefordshire Albert was bought by the police in 2005 because of his size and good temperament. He was originally named Westhope Albert.
He is one of the few police horses in the force to keep his name; usually they are given names such as Odin, Thor or Caesar.
“We decided he looked like an Albert,” said PC Andy Barkus who trained the horse for the first 12 months of his career.
Recalling the first time he met Albert, PC Barkus added: “Across the other side of the common there was a lady who was exercising a race horse. Normally that would set other horses off, but Albert didn’t “I thought, ‘that is a good sign’.
“Most people who meet and ride Albert like him because of his character.
“For us to get a horse that has been at that level for 10 years is fantastic.
“He has served the public for a decade and now he is getting the chance for a bit of a chill out and holiday.”
One of the most demanding of the many events Albert worked on was the EDL demonstration in Slough in April 2012. He was awarded a Chief Constable’s Commendation for bravery.
“On that day he did everything that was asked of him and, with everything that was going on, he was brave — he is not the kind of horse that would spook and run away from it,” said PC Kev Simmons of the mounted section.
In December Albert had to miss the Christmas lights switch-on in Buckingham as he had been suffering from stiffness in his joints.
His condition has improved after rest but the force’s vet has advised, because of his age, it is likely to get worse.
“We want to retire him at a point where he can go and enjoy life with The Horse Trust,” said PC Simmons.
“It is sad that he is going but also enjoyable knowing he is going off to retirement and can chill out for the rest of his days.
“Although he is one of our older horses, Albert still tends to be full of beans. You take him out and he has still got that liveliness about him — his body is a bit older than his mind is now though.”