Albert retires to pastures new

20-11-14 Public Order training with Horses - Photographer Alex Skennerton - � Thames Valley Police
20-11-14 Public Order training with Horses - Photographer Alex Skennerton - � Thames Valley Police

The longest-serving police horse in Thames Valley is set to retire after suffering stiffness in his joints.

Albert the hero will live a life of well-earned luxury with The Horse Trust in a Buckinghamshire village.

20-11-14 Public Order training with Horses - Photographer Alex Skennerton - � Thames Valley Police

20-11-14 Public Order training with Horses - Photographer Alex Skennerton - � Thames Valley Police

There he will graze with other former police and military horses and enjoy fuss from visitors.

One of the visitors will be city PC Andy Barkus, who trained Albert when the horse first joined the mounted section ten years ago.

Since then the 18-year-old Irish draught cross has worked steadfastly through animal rights marches, football matches, concerts,. Royal Ascot events and English Defence League demonstrations.

He has also been a regular at patrolling city centres across Thames Valley on busy Friday and Saturday nights, when nothing causes him to spook.

Throughout his entire career he has been brave, unflappable and an “absolute servant”, say police.

Last year Albert’s loyalty was recognised when he was named a runner-up in the RSPCA and Daily Mirror’s animal Hero Awards.

He was also honoured in 2012 when he receive a chief Constable’s Commendation for bravery during an EDL march.

Said PC Barkus: “Albert has been absolutely brilliant. For us to get a horse that has been at that level for 10 years is fantastic.

“He has served the public for a decade and now he is getting the chance for a bit of a chill out and holiday.”

Albert is still “full of beans” but his joints are showing signs of old age stiffness.

The condition came to light just before Christmas, forcing him to miss appearing at Christmas light switch-on duties. One of his riders, PC Kev Simmons, said: “You take him out and he has still got that liveliness about him. But his body is a bit older than is mind is now.

“We want him to retire at a point where he can go and enjoy life with the Horse Trust. He has done a great job and we want to pay him back with a good retirement.”

PC Simmons admits Albert’s departure from the police stables will prompt a mix of emotions.

“It is sad that he is going but also enjoyable knowing that he is going off to a retirement and can enjoy life and chill out for the rest of his days.”

It is expected that Albert will retire at the end of February.