Popular British police horse Spartan has started his well-earned retirement at The Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses in Buckinghamshire.
Spartan, a 17.1hh Clydesdale cross, spent six years of service with the Thames Valley Police Mounted Section.
As well as protecting the public on daily patrols , at football matches and occasionally the terrible violence of demonstrations Spartan – fondly known as Sparky – enjoyed some notable moments in his career at the London Olympics, Her Majesty The Queen Mother’s funeral, and Sir Elton John’s wedding. He even escorted HM The Queen at Royal Ascot.
PC Andy Barkus, who trained Spartan, said “Spartan is the boldest police horse I have ever worked with. During a demonstration in Brighton, the demonstrators decided to block our path with wheelie bins. Spartan pushed straight through without any hesitation.”
The giant horse is full of character and has a reputation for getting grumpy, especially when his feeding routine is interrupted. He was a huge favourite at Thames Valley Police. PC Kirsty Wilson, who rode Spartan for two and a half years, said: “Spartan is my favourite horse. Although I will miss him, I am so pleased he has the opportunity to retire at The Horse Trust.”
Whilst visiting The Horse Trust to drop off Spartan for his well-deserved retirement Thames Valley Police Mounted Section took the opportunity to spend the day training some of their other horses in the charity’s new sand school.
Police horses often face large crowds and occasionally even violence and aggression and must be able to work closely together in teams in order to help maintain public safety. Police horses Sampson, Caesar, Odin, Trojan, Pagan and Luna trained together at The Horse Trust as part of a troop drill to them practice working as a team. PC Tim Pollock of Thames Valley police said “thanks to the size of The Horse Trust’s school, we are able to work six horses, which is a useful experience for them”.
The Horse Trust is proud of its long relationship with Thames Valley Police. Many of their police officers who are not in the Mounted Section visit The Horse Trust to receive training in basic horse handling and welfare assessment, to ensure that they have the skills needed to deal with stray horses on the road, as well as any welfare concerns they may encounter.
The Horse Trust, founded in 1886, is the oldest horse charity in the UK. Based at Speen, Buckinghamshire, it relies entirely on donations to fund its work, which includes providing a dignified retirement for hard-working equine public servants like Spartan and providing essential training for police officers.
It costs the charity an average of £12 per day to look after each horse at the sanctuary, which includes the costs of grooms, forage, farriery and veterinary care. The Horse Trust spends £50,000 per year on medication and vets fees.
To make a donation, visit www.horsetrust.org.uk or call 01494 488464.