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Girl power: police force recruits first mare in 162-year history

Northumbria Police Force’s mounted division has allowed the first mare to join its ranks in its 162-year history.

Police horse Penelope (stable name Bella) is ready to hit the beat after successfully undertaking the force’s stringent training programme.

The 10-year-old Clydesdale joined the force in August and will now support frontline officers policing large-scale events and tackling antisocial behaviour.

Northumbria started a search for new horses in May this year, appealing to the public for their help in finding suitable mounts. The recruitment criteria were for 16.2hh to 17.3hh draught types aged between five and 12, including Shires, Clydesdales, Irish draughts and cross-breeds.

“Penelope is the first recruit to the team in a while and she has already made a great impression,” said sergeant Stuart Coates, who heads the mounted division. “She is full of character and is fitting in well with the boys.

“We are expecting big things from her and if you see her policing the streets we would encourage you to come and say hello.”

The force has a history of recruiting geldings for the role, making Penelope the first mare ever to join the County Durham stables. While there was no official ban on mares, it was considered one of the traditions, along with all the horses being given names beginning with “P”.

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Penelope was officially named by assistant chief constable Helen McMillan, who had previously commented that if the section ever recruited a mare it should be called Penelope.

The mare, who measures 17hh, has now joined up with her colleagues at Northumbria Police’s Mounted Section, who include grey Irish draught Parker.

The force said there is now every chance Thunderbirds fans could see a different kind of Lady Penelope and Parker helping to fight crime.

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