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Last tour of duty for police horse

PUBLISHED: 15:58 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:54 23 August 2010

PASTURES NEW: Retiring Raleigh with his rider PC Bill Hounsome

PASTURES NEW: Retiring Raleigh with his rider PC Bill Hounsome

A POLICE force s longest-serving horse is hanging up his stirrups after 20 years of service to join his former colleague in a Kent stable. Raleigh, 23, left London s Metropolitan Police after completing a final tour of duty at the Changing of the Guard c

A POLICE force's longest-serving horse is hanging up his stirrups after 20 years of service to join his former colleague in a Kent stable.

Raleigh, 23, left London's Metropolitan Police after completing a final tour of duty at the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Tuesday, July 21.

He returned briefly to Great Scotland Yard before his journey to a relaxing future in a stable in Sevenoaks, where he will be looked after by his current rider.

PC Bill Hounsome, from the Mounted Branch, said: "I've been very lucky to ride Raleigh for the last three years as he's very popular with all my colleagues and the public.

"He may be a veteran at 23 but he thinks he's 13. When he's excited he bucks and jumps around and he's good at tempting people into feeding him apples and other treats!

"It's incredible for a horse to still be so fit and youthful at his age, but he has served an exceptionally long time as a police horse and it's time for a well deserved rest.

"I'm very pleased that I'm able to offer him that."

He will join ex-Met veteran police horse Hector, who was based at Hyde Park stables and retired six years ago.

Joining the Met in 1989 as a three-year-old gelding from Yorkshire, Raleigh has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a police horse in London.

After an initial training course and a brief spell at Epsom, he was introduced to city policing when he moved to Brixton to begin operational duties.

As well as daily patrols, Raleigh began further training in public order and was deployed at his first football game at Millwall in 1993.

He also won an area competition for dressage and for the next three years took part in the Met's display show Activity Ride.

In 1999 Raleigh moved to Great Scotland Yard and has performed numerous ceremonial duties including Changing of the Guard and the Trooping of the Colour.

He continued to be deployed at large scale public order events including the Notting Hill Carnival, demonstrations, and football matches.

The Met's Mounted Branch has 148 officers and 120 horses and there are seven operational stables across London.

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