2017 Winning Wednesday- Racing to Protect & Serve- NSW Mounted Police Unit

The racing life of a Thoroughbred Race Horse varies on a number of factors but mostly comes down to their willingness to want to continue racing. Others reach an age where they simply just have had enough and yearn for a green paddock. Others can happily race on until they reach 12 years of age, which is when they must be retired officially from racing.

Most people often ask what happens to a race horse once it has been retired from racing, there is no generic response to this question as there are a number of options that await an Off The Track Thoroughbred. Some of these options are Showing, Equestrian Events (Show Jumping, Dressage, Cross Country), trail riding, barrel racing and so on. But for a special select few a much more important career awaits!

When you think of Police, the first thoughts that come to mind could include Cops (the American TV show), Bad Boys (the theme song to Cops) and usually means that you are running away from them (maybe because you were checking your phone while driving). One area of the Police Force that seems to be a favourite is the Mounted Police, we all seem to love seeing Police Horses either on the streets or at various events.

So what do race horses and the Police force have in common? For those special few that meet the select criteria and pass their trial period, they go from race track to patrolling the streets, protecting and serving.

On Sunday 26th November, the NSW Mounted Police Unit opened up the gates and invited the general public in for the opportunity to get up close and personal with the troop horses and to get an understanding in the life of a Police Horse.  Our Journo went along in search of Thoroughbreds that have become Police Horses and as proceeds from the day went to Camp Quality, it was hard to go past the NSW Mounted Police Unit Open Day for our Winning Wednesday.

History of the NSW Mounted Police

Established on 7th September 1825 by Governor Brisbane makes it the oldest continuous operation not only in Australia but globally. In 1830 the unit was first located at Belmore Barracks and three country divisions in Bathurst, Goulburn and Maitland. It was not until March 1862 the NSW Police Force was formed.

The unit moved to the current location in Bourke Street in 1907 and has since undergone redevelopment to include top class facilities that allows the police to continuously train the officers (both human and horse) for a life keeping our streets safe. Today the unit comprises of around 36 officers and 31 horses, with 85{fddcb93768ef9c7fdbaa8f7e3070a154b0816ccbd68b1bd9684c02e142c32ffe} being female officers.

Duties of the Mounted Police Unit

Police Horses are used for various occasions and events these range from:

  • Mounted patrols through streets
  • Crowd Management
  • Operational Support
  • Search for missing persons, escapees and some cases searching for evidence.
  • Ceremonial & Parades
  • Musical Rides (if you attend the Easter Show you will be familiar with this demonstration, if not click here to watch

Selection Criteria

Not every horse can become a Police Horse, there is a set criteria that must be met even before the horse will be taken on trial. Should a horse meet the criteria then it is placed on a 3 month trial before being accepted into the force. Here is a look at some of the criteria:

Horses

  • The horse must stand 16 hands or above
  • Usually between the ages of 4 and 10 years of age
  • Geldings are preferred however, not mandatory
  • Must be Bay, Brown or Black in colour (this is a tradition that dates back to the 1800’s and has been kept by the unit)
  • Must pass tests on soundness, temperament, trainability and stable handling

Fun Facts about Police Horses

  • A variety of breeds are chosen from, there is not one preferred breed
  • Up to 10 horses can be trialled before being accepted
  • Training may take up to 2 years to complete
  • The horses will have a stable name and a troop horse name
  • Once retired, appropriate homes are found (horses are usually listed in Horse Deals Magazine)

Mounted Police Officers

Just like the horses, the officers must also demonstrate their suitability to be accepted into the Mounted Unit.

So what does it take to be able to wear the blue uniform on the back of a Police Horse?

  • Officers must complete 3 years of general duties at a Local Area Command (LAC) before applying
  •  Pass well-founded medical, physical and written examinations
  • Trained in horse care and saddlery, riding, equitation and lance drills, general duties, arrest procedures, issuing traffic infringements, random breath testing, navigation and search skills.
  • Must train their primary horse while still assisting with others (eventually officers are assigned to one primary horse in which they will be responsible for)
  • Horses must be exercised twice a day

Potential new officers must also undertake a 2 week assessment testing phase which results in the final day with tests under saddle, bareback and jumping. If accepted into the unit, they are subjected to a further 3-4 month course before they can be operational within the unit. Including the mandatory qualifications that officers must have, the mounted unit are required to also hold a Medium Rigid Truck Licence, Equestrian Australian Qualifications (Introductory Riding & Horse Management).

When not out on patrol or other assignments, the officers are responsible for other “fatigue” duties which can include stable maintenance, attending to saddlery, training (troop drill, crowd control, escort duties etc). Must also be possess detailed veterinary knowledge, farrier procedures, rug & tack maintenance and horse transportation.

Mounted Police Thoroughbreds

Walking around the stables in the complex, it was clear that there is definitely a mixture of breeds within the Troop Horses. These ranged from the gorgeous big Clydesdale, Percheron, Stock Horses and of course our favourite the Thoroughbred. Let’s get to know a little about the Thoroughbreds that were found in the stables.

Valinorean

It was hard not to mistake this big boy as a Thoroughbred, as soon as you walk into the first stable complex you are greeted with a towering bay gelding that stands at an imposing 16.2 hands.

Valinorean (Exceed and Excel x Eldarin) is an unraced Thoroughbred bred by the largest operation in the world Godolphin, related to champion Grand Armee. For those not familiar, Godolphin is the racing and breeding operation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. His passion and dedication for horses is admired by many in the racing game (to read more click here).

Not cutting it as a Race horse, Valinorean was donated by Godolphin to the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust (TRT). This organisation is part of Racing NSW and is headed by ex mounted police officer Scott Brodie. TRT is a not for profit organisation that takes retired race horses and retrains them for a life after racing. With Scott’s experience having worked in the force, he is aware of what is required for horses to make the grade to be accepted into the Mounted Police Unit, as a result of his potential this big guy is currently on trial, all reports are that he is doing well.

Take a look at some of his training with Scott Brodie here 

Warrigal (Stable Name: Halo)

Another bay thoroughbred gelding standing at an imposing 16.3 hands and weighing over 600kgs he is considered to be one of the best horses in the unit. Warrigal joined the force in 2003 and during his time has performed in front of 80,000 people in the 2005 & 2010 Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Hollywood (Stable Name: Ardy)

This horse comes from racing royalty, his father is none other that champion race horse Octagonal who had won more than $5 million dollars and won the hearts of many people during his race career. Hollywood joined the unit in 2009 and plays a special role within the force in that he is always the first choice for the Commander to ride when attending parades or events.

 

 

Other horses that are part Thoroughbred

Beersheeba (Stable Name: Regal)- Warmblood x Thoroughbred, named to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of “The Battle of Beersheeba”

Angus  (Stable Name: Coby)- Percheron x Thoroughbred, related to Ras and Jackson.

 

 

Ismo (Stable Name: Vegemite) – Clydesdale x Thoroughbred, stands at 16.3 hands and joined the force in early 2000

 

 

 

So if you ever do wonder where some retired race horses go, just remember the next time that you see the Mounted Police at an event, beach or patrolling the streets, you just never know you may be standing next to an ex champion that has found a life after racing, protecting and serving!

Thoroughbred Events Australia would like to thank the NSW Mounted Police Unit for opening up their gates to give as an insight into the life of a Police Horse but for also giving retired racehorses a life after racing. It was great to see a large crowd turn out and help support Camp Quality.

 

Article and photos by Kylie Johnson

 

 

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