I met the kindest police officer Emma whilst she was taking Yeoman, the most beautiful grey Clydesdale, for some grass just on the bank of the river Thames. We agreed that I would go visit the mounted branch at Scotland Yard some time soon.
The long-awaited day arrived, and I met Emma at Buckingham Palace. Emma was on another horse called Oliver and their job for the morning was to assist with the changing of the guard. Emma, all her colleagues and the astonishing police horses contained a very large crowd allowing the changing of the guard to run smoothly… until Oliver decided to empty his bowels right on the path of the soldiers. Nevertheless, the changing of the guard was executed impeccably and all the police horses dealt with the crowd, the band and the noise level effortlessly. This showed me how much training these horses undergo.
At the end of the changing of the guard we agreed to meet at the Scotland Yard stables. One could never think that behind this very ordinary building’s façade there was a two storey stables that was home to the highly trained 21 police horses.
I loved spending individual time with most of them and learning about their personal histories, their weaknesses (if you can call them that) and strengths. All these horses are trained to handle all the diverse situations that a very busy and demanding city like London calls them to. They could be called to riots or football games or royal parades.
In fact, I was blown away by the ‘military’ organisation of the tack room, where each horse had their own specialized kit containing metal reins for risky situations such as animal right protests. In addition to highly protective boots to cope with a situation where someone could come very close to the horse or the officer riding who will carry a baton. To complete the look the horses of course had a breast plate with their police badges.
Every single horse was simply mesmerizing, but I particularly enjoyed spending time with Oliver. He is a dark bay around 17.2 hands and with a long career in the police in fact he was the lead Horse at the Queen’s funeral procession. What I found humbling is that although these horses have a special bond with their trainer/officer, they are so well trained that they can be ridden by different riders whom they have never met before and yet preform their duties with outstanding precision.
With heart felt thanks to Mounted Branch officer Emma, whose love and dedication to the horses is astonishing and her desire to inspire the next generation is infectious.