‘Run free, big man’: farewell to long-serving police horse

  • A distinguished police horse who served in the May Day riots, led the New Year’s Day parade, attended state openings of parliament and was the chosen ride of the Duke of Kent has died at the age of 31.

    Long-serving Irish draught Trident began his career in the force at the age of five at Wandsworth but served most of his time in central London at Great Scotland Yard.

    Although the 16.3hh grey went into official retirement with mounted police head girl Jen Hutchinson and her husband Kevin in 2008, he was still called upon for occasional duties.

    “He was a little git when he was younger but he mellowed and turned into a really good ceremonial horse,” said Kevin. “Although he retired at 21, his last job was in 2012 when he was an escort horse at William and Kate’s wedding.”

    Trident was also the favoured mount of the Duke of Kent, who traditionally rode a police horse for the Trooping of the Colour.

    Trident, second right, with the Duke of Kent

    “That was the main role he kept returning for,” said Kevin. “He tried Trident one year and the two of them got along like a house on fire.

    “The year we decided it was best if Trident didn’t have to go back into central London, the duke tried another horse but wouldn’t ride him on parade. He called it a day and said that if he couldn’t have his old boy Trident back, he would go by carriage instead.”

    The big grey had an impressive CV, combining policing demonstrations, football matches and pop concerts with a string of ceremonial roles. These included the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, state visits, the Lord Mayor’s procession, the changing of the guard, the state opening of Parliament and escorting the cavalry change.

    His more unusual jobs featured a stint as “living art” in the Tate Modern and he also turned his hoof to showjumping, winning the service jumping at Richmond Show.

    Trident continued to hack at home in Essex with Kevin and Jen until last year.

    “Before that he was still going out two or three times a week and enjoying life,” Kevin said. “He was certainly a character — he refused to go out with the geldings in the field and had to go out with a mare. He also liked to stop and search everyone on their way to and from the feed room.”

    Trident spent his retirement at Gina Bruce’s livery yard in Essex. She also paid tribute to the “gentle giant”, adding: “We cannot put into words how much he will be missed”.

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    “Our thoughts are with owners Jen and Kev who absolutely cherished him. Jen worked alongside Trident in the Metropolitan Police Force and we truly loved hearing the stories of him in his rogue days, bolting and overtaking double decker buses on Oxford Street and stamping on tourists wearing flip-flops. It’s hard to believe such a gentle giant could be such a thug!

    “He made us smile every single day and we felt privileged to look after him,” she added. “He was a horse in a lifetime and so, so special. Run free over the Rainbow Bridge, big man.”

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