‘Cheeky’ police horse named runner-up animal of the year for his bravery

  • A police horse known for his “cheeky” character and bravery has been named runner-up animal of the year award in a force’s annual awards.

    Woodthorpe, known as Woody, came second to police dog Winston in South Yorkshire Police’s operational support unit awards last month. The 16.2hh Irish sport horse joined the mounted section 18 months ago and is ridden by PC Michelle Hudson.

    A spokesman for the force said horses and dogs play a “vital” role in protecting and serving communities, adding that they are all “deserving winners and worthy of recognition”.

    “Woodthorpe came to us having lived in Ireland and had not done very much at all, being only six when we bought him,” he said. “He has transformed into a confident young police horse. During his very limited service, he has been involved in large-scale disorder and escorted two very loud and volatile crowds during football matches.”

    PC Hudson described Woody as having a “cheeky” character, especially when an apple or carrot is close by, and said the gelding does everything asked of him in daunting and stressful situations.

    “Woodthorpe has already shown that he is incredibly brave and has made an excellent police horse,” she said.

    The gelding was nominated for animal of the year following his bravery in detaining a suspect in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, on 27 June 2019.

    “My colleague PC Rachel Reece dismounted from her horse Hoober to stop and search a man who was smoking cannabis. Woody stood quietly while the search was being conducted. The man then ran from PC Reece and without any hesitation about leaving Hoober, Woodthorpe and I pursued the suspect,” said PC Hudson.

    “We went on to the road and down towards Hunters Bar where it was very busy with vehicles, before a district officer arrived making a lot of noise with the sirens and managed to arrest the man.”

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    PC Hudson added while horses do not like to leave their companions, Woody did this “without question”.

    “The noise and things going on around him did not phase him at all. I was incredibly impressed by his behaviour,” she said.

    PC Hudson and Woodthorpe were presented the award by the operational support unit’s superintendent Paul McCurray at Ring Farm, Cudworth.

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