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New ‘Roman god’ joins mounted police force

A new equine recruit has become “one of the team” as he settles into life at Thames Valley Police.

Seven weeks ago the force welcomed 17.2hh Irish sport horse Neptune. Following his successful trial period under the eye of PC Laura Webb, Neptune will now begin his official police horse training.

Sergeant Leon Astley told H&H the “lovely” six-year-old gelding had fitted in well.

“Neptune is a happy horse and has become one of the team very quickly,” he said.

“We have a tradition of naming all our horses after Roman or Greek gods and Neptune seemed fitting for him.”

Sgt. Astley said over the next couple of years Neptune will be trained in various different scenarios.

“We’ll introduce him to bigger crowds and town centres, then we’ll do nuisance and public order training,” he said.

“It’s really difficult at the moment because ordinarily the new horses would get taken to football matches, music festivals and city centre night-time patrols but because none of that is going on at the moment, there is a bit of a delay in the ability to train the horses which makes it really difficult. We’re still going out patrolling and we have two of our horses currently doing public order training with the riot police.”

Neptune joins the force’s seven other horses; Odin, Aurora, Loki, Luna, Atlas, Viktor and Harper.

“We have some good characters,” said Sgt. Astley. “Loki is the Greek god of mischief and true to his name, Loki is quite mischievous – he’s cheeky to handle on the ground. Atlas is an 18.1hh part-bred Shire. He’s a softie and loves a fuss and a cuddle.

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“Luna is our heaviest horse, she’s a Normandy cob and weighs about 930kg. She’s a ‘marey’ mare, she has a real attitude on the ground but to ride she’s lovely, she’s like a big armchair.”

In 2018 Thames Valley Police’s mounted section had been at risk of closure due to budget cuts, but the decision was turned around.

“At the time we weren’t replacing any horses but since it was decided to keep the unit we’ve been building the section back up again and have a good team of horses,” said Sgt. Astley.

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