Police officers bade an emotional farewell to their mounts as they delivered them to The Horse Trust following the disbanding of the Cleveland Mounted Police Unit in north-east England.
It was a sad day for the region as the section’s officers, grooms and volunteers accompanied the horses on the 250 mile drive to their new home with the Buckinghamshire-based charity. After their final journey together they settled the horses in before saying an emotional farewell to the brave mounts that had served them faithfully for so many years.
Cleveland Police announced in June it would be disbanding its mounted section in a bid to save £88,000 a year. Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said the decision to disband the section was “one of the hardest” she had ever made and pledged to find the horses “safe and caring” new homes. Cleveland Police approached The Horse Trust, which specialises in providing respite and retirement for working horses who have served their country and community in the police and military.
The section’s remaining four police horses Reg, Alfie, Roman and Joey joined fellow Cleveland Police Horse Clyde, who retired to The Horse Trust in July 2012. 19hh gentle giant Clyde served with the mounted section for more than 10 years and was the biggest police horse in the country. Despite the sadness of the occasion the officers were delighted to be reunited with Big Clyde.
PC Chris Bancroft said: “I am over the moon the horses have come here. I would rather they came here than anywhere else. We always knew what a great place this was, and we were thrilled when Big Clyde came here for his retirement. The Horse Trust is a true working horse’s utopia.”
The mounted section was much-loved by its local community and a campaign to save Cleveland’s police horses gained thousands of supporters including Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and comedian Patrick Monahan. But despite their valiant efforts the campaigners were unable to raise the £521,000 annual costs needed to save the section.
Local people expressed their sadness at the loss of their mounted branch on the campaign’s Facebook page.
Cleveland Police Mounted Section is the latest of several mounted branches to have been disbanded for financial reasons across Britain, with Humberside Police Mounted Section also slated for closure. In 2012 The Horse Trust gave new homes to Trojan and Patrick from the Essex Police Mounted Section when they disbanded.
Alfie, Reg and Roman had all served with the Cleveland Mounted Section for more than years. They were regularly seen on daily patrols in the Cleveland area and policed hundreds of football matches at Middleborough FC. They even helped police the Olympic Park and Wembley during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The youngest horse, Joey, had been with the mounted section for two years and was still in training. Cleveland Police horses Bob and Ranger moved to Northumbria Police Mounted Section earlier this month. Two-long serving horses from Northumbria Mounted Section, Phlint and Pongo, will arrive at The Horse Trust next week to enjoy a peaceful retirement in the Chiltern countryside after a lifetime of service.
Chief Executive Jeanette Allen said The Horse Trust was pleased to have been able to help Cleveland Mounted Police Section by providing a specialist home for the horses. “All of the horses have settled in really well, especially Alf who is so laid back he is acting like he has been here forever.”
Police horses are funded by the taxpayer during their working career, but as they retire their funding ceases. The Horse Trust rely entirely on public donations to care for these wonderful horses.