Police Horses’ Lives Matter Too.

Police horses wearing eye and face shields and leg protection.

It was saddening to see yet again police horses finding themselves caught in the middle and being abused, this time in Whitehall, London on Saturday during the Black Lives Matter demonstration. They cease to be horses in these situations and become authoritarian entities and many people who in normal circumstances may treat animals with compassion lose all reason in their efforts to attack or injure the figure sitting on them.

Over the past years we have seen, time and again, police horses put at risk and violently attacked when the frenzy of confrontation gets out of hand. There will always be people who see no harm in hurting animals but putting that aside there is no excuse for throwing bicycles, flares, and other objects at them.  

Many will contend that if they were not there they would not get hurt and this is absolutely right as in these modern civilised times they shouldn’t be. But if we are truly civilised we should not be taking out our anger on them, either intentionally or accidentally. In trying to injure or unseat the rider the innocent horse maybe viewed as collateral damage. On Saturday the police officer and horse could easily have been killed or bystanders seriously injured by the fleeing horse. How urbane is that?

The runaway horse showed good sense by going home.

And what about the mental impact on the animal as the runaway horse seen on Saturday was clearly terrified? What also was the sense in cantering the horses through a melee on wet slippery roads during a downpour – where was the health and safety risk assessment there? The runaway horse showed extremely good sense by finding its own way home away from the chaos.

We are now well into the 21st century, with the Police possessing high-tech equipment for every eventuality and yet forces around the world still seem unable to combat crime or deal with disturbances without resorting to putting horses (or dogs) at risk on the front-line. The fact that the horses must wear protective equipment is testament to the risk of injury.

In 2018, a police horse name “Morecombe” tragically died after falling on a metal pole which punctured his stomach while patrolling a football match, having slipped while “responding to reports of disorder”. He is not the only fatality in recent years. Although many police forces in the UK have already got rid of their horse section and retired them to normal lives, most still feel a need for them.

When are we going to remove the danger to everyone – horse, rider and public by banishing them to their best and most useful role as ambassadors and ceremonial participants or better still retire them? Once again we have seen that there are no qualms about attacking or injuring a horse regardless of the new “Finn’s law”.

It is time to take Police horses off front-line duties.

Author: John Brookland

John Brookland has been passionate about animals from an early age and has always been more concerned about their individual health and well-being than any scientific or zoological interest. During his long and varied career in animal welfare in the U.K. and worldwide, he has unfortunately witnessed most of the horrors of animal cruelty there is to see and has gained extensive insight into animal welfare issues. On leaving school he trained as an RSPCA clinic assistant in London and later was manager of one of their veterinary hospitals and an animal centre. He was Chief Inspector and manager of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau and spent time in Trinidad advising on a humane stray dog control service, before becoming a deputy manager and animal health inspector at Heathrow's Animal Quarantine Centre. He then travelled the world for a conservation group investigating the capture and transport of wildlife for the pet trade and was an honorary consultant to the IUCN and CITES. He is now retired and still travelling the world with his partner to view wildlife and wild places and writing a blog and books on animals.

3 thoughts on “Police Horses’ Lives Matter Too.”

  1. So angry and disgusted to see the scenes on Saturday. Now an MP has complained about the horses charging the crowd! Given the present situation it is time to get police horses off the front line before there is a dreadful incident. Please please bring as much pressure to bear as your organisation can.

    1. Thanks Bernadette,
      There has been a lot of interest in my posts on the subject which is encouraging to see. It appears that the police horses become invisible in these situations and their welfare ignored. Your comment about the MP highlights the total misunderstanding of the situation by politicians and their false claim that the government puts animal welfare before any other considerations.
      Thanks again for commenting. Regards John brookland.

  2. We have a history of abusing this noble, intelligent animal: we have seen horses as a source of meat (and still do) , we have run them into the ground by using it as a form of mass transport ( just read ‘Black Beauty’….it really isn’t the Victorian teenagers’ book it seems ), we have sent them out to fight battles that they have nothing to do with (eg, go back to ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’) and still we send them out to deal with civic issues that they well might get damaged by: this isn’t the first time this has happened . I fully support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, but also strongly feel that horses should not be involved in the confrontations. In an ideal world, we would protest without horses being involved: please let’s not let them get caught it the middle of this struggle: they really don’t deserve it.

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