There were plenty of long faces when three distinguished members of Britain’s thin blue line trotted off into retirement.
There wasn’t a dry eye at Hough End’s mounted unit, part of the Greater Manchester Police, as officers said goodbye to their four-legged partners Pip, Countess and Harvey.
Pip, a 16.2-hand piebald, began his career in 2005. He has stood his ground at everything from Manchester United home-comings to parades, protest marches and riots.
Originally from Lancashire, Pip took his time with the force in his stride and has won over Constable Kate Guest in the process.
At the age of 18, he is now due a well-deserved break. He will join Countess and Harvey in putting his hooves up in a grazing field in Goostrey, Cheshire, before eventually going to The Horse Trust in Buckinghamshire.
Countess, a 20-year-old dark bay mare, began her career with the force in 2004, when eight years old. He hailed from Staffordshire and for the past year has worked with Constable Karen Danks.
Last of the trio to retire is Harvey, a 19–year-old bright bay from Humberside constabulary. He joined Pip and Countess at events across Greater Manchester with Constable Aaron Wilson in the saddle.
All Greater Manchester Police horses are trialled for a number of weeks before they begin a rigorous training process which prepares them for life on the beat. This includes being taken out on the roads and attending smaller events to get used to crowds and traffic before policing large-scale operations.
Constable Kate Guest, from the mounted unit, said the trio had been a huge asset. She praised their work and bravery.
“They each have their own personality and characteristics and no two horses are ever the same.
“Pip has been the rock of the unit for so many years and he will always be my favourite. He is nicknamed the stone wall because he is not scared of anything and although I have only been in the team for a year, he has been with me since the start. He has taught me everything I know about being a mounted officer and he has always made me feel safe, no matter what the situation.
“He is the granddad of the group and can be like a grumpy old man, but once he gets to know you he is so soft and sweet and loves being scratched behind the ears.
“He is a one off and I won’t forget him or the work he has done during his time at GMP.”