Legendary police horse dies

  • Steele, the eight-times winner of Police Horse of the Year, has been put to sleep

    Steele, the police horse who captured the nation’s hearts winning the Police Horse of the Year award a record eight times, has been put to sleep at the age of 25.

    A cut above the rest

    Bought by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary from the Doncaster Sales as a four-year-old, the 16.2hh bay gelding made his mark earlyon being almost full Thoroughbred.

    Arriving as a raw recruit, Steele was assigned to PC Alan Clarke and was named after the then chief superintendent, Kenneth Steele. Looking back over their career together, Alan Clarke said of his partner: “He was quite simply the Red Rum of police horses.”

    Steele endeared himself to all that knew him proving to be the
    perfect gentleman both in and out of the stable.

    Sgt Alan Jobbins, who took over the ride from PCClarke in 1986, remembers that despite being well mannered, he could also be sharp.

    Disgracing himself live on national television

    “Television viewers once saw Steele bolting with his rider after being spooked by a train,” he recalls. “He ran for nearly a 1 1/2miles before slipping on some cobbles and depositing his rider.

    “When he got up, we were amazed to discover that although his wounds were bleeding profusely, they were superficial. His rider suffered nothing more than dented pride!”

    Winning a record eight times

    As well as performing routine operational duties, Steele excelled in police horse competitions, which were at their heyday. He won Police Horse of the Year at Wembleya record eight times, first in 1981 and for the last time in 1994 when he was retired from competitions.

    Steele continued operational duties for another two years before being officially retired from service at the age of 20. Throughout his 16-year career, he helped police opening hunt meets, riots, football matches and he even appeared on Children in Need.

    He had that something special,” said Sgt Alan Jobbins. “In another life he would have evented. He had a tremendous jump and terrific movement.”

    He was retired to live with Ray and Ruth Barton in Monmouthshire who cared for him for five years. The decision to put him to sleep was made after the veteran police horse became stiff in his hindlegs and found wintering out increasingly difficult.

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