‘Sleep tight, big fella’: tributes paid to long-serving police horse

A “kind-hearted” police horse who served for more than 14 years has died shortly into his retirement.

Lionheart, known to his friends as Lionel, was put down due to illness following a distinguished career with the Nottinghamshire and City of London Police mounted sections.

“Lionel was a true gentleman,” mounted branch sergeant Jim Green told H&H.

Kind, gentle, well-mannered and eager to please, he was known throughout the force as a big friendly giant and he always attracted visitors.

“We always aim to retire our horses while they are still fit enough to enjoy it so it’s a great shame that Lionel’s retirement was cut so short by his illness.”

Lionheart, ridden by Commander Gyford, at his final Lord Mayor’s Show

The 17.2hh part-bred Clydesdale was due to be rehomed with volunteer Elaine Freer, who had known the horse for many years.

“Even though he never made it to his new home, Elaine was with him at the very end,” added Sergeant Green.

“On behalf of the City of London Police, thank you for your service Lionel and sleep tight, big fella.”

He took part at the forefront of many mounted police operations and helped train many new riders and horses joining the police.

Lionel served at numerous football matches, sporting fixtures and public disorder situations, as well as the funeral of King Richard III in 2015, and led the Freedom of the City parade for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in 2016. He also formed part of the Lord Mayor’s show every year since he joined the City of London Police in 2012.

On his retirement in November, mounted branch stable manager Eloise Mayhead remembered him as “the kindest horse”.

“[He] never likes to do anything wrong or be in your bad books,” she said.

“He does whatever the rider tells him to do as he has total confidence in the rider. Although he’s a big wimp at heart, he’ll go wherever you tell him to go as he is so subservient and very kind.”

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