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‘He taught many officers to ride – and to fall off’: police horse retires after 13 years’ service

There will not be a “dry eye in the stable” as Lancashire Constabulary waves goodbye to one of its oldest and longest-serving equine recruits.

The mounted section’s 21-year-old Dutch warmblood Darwen will travel to the Horse Trust, Buckinghamshire, today (15 June) for a well-earned retirement after 13 years’ service.

Sergeant Adam Pearson, who has ridden Darwen on and off for around six years, told H&H the “unique” gelding would be missed.

“It’s really sad when any of them leave us because you spend more time with them than your family, but on the other hand I’m really pleased he can go and enjoy his retirement,” he said.

“One of Darwen’s defining moments was the London 2012 Olympics. We took part in the musical ride on the opening day in front of 10,000 people.”

Sergeant Pearson said while the gelding was brave, he preferred to be a follower and liked to do “as little as he could get away with”.

“He taught many officers to ride – and to fall off. In the school he could see ghosts in the corner and the next minute it would be exit stage right, he was very good at that.

“He would go out on his own and wasn’t really fazed by large crowds. Because of his reliability he worked all the major football matches in Lancashire, including a particularly volatile match in 2014 between Blackburn and Leeds. He faced down 400 angry fans, which was quite something!”

Darwen was known in the force as being “aloof”, but a “one of a kind” gelding with a dislike for apples.

“It took a lot of trust before he would let you in but once he trusted someone he would stick his head out of his stable when he heard them coming,” said Sergeant Pearson.

“I know many officers will have fond memories of him and he will be a massive loss to the branch.”

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Sergeant Pearson said it’s important to him the horses, who usually leave the force between the age of 18 and 22, have a good retirement.

“It’s so special to me that after they’ve worked so hard pounding the beat, they get a well-earned rest at somewhere like the Horse Trust, and Darwen definitely deserves it,” he said.

“It will be especially lovely to know he will enjoy his retirement with some of his former colleagues as he rejoins Sawley, Silverdale, Caton, Belthorn and Nelson at his new home.”

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