YH Stacey spent the day with po­lice horses in cen­tral Lon­don – and came back with a tip or two for rid­ing on the road

Your Horse (UK) - - Editor's Letter - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: MATT ROBERTS

If you spend ev­ery day, twice a day, rid­ing through the streets of one of the busiest ar­eas of Lon­don, you pick up a thing or two about rid­ing in heavy traf­fic. To help you with road-rid­ing is­sues, the Lon­don City Po­lice’s Mounted Unit took us out on pa­trol to show us how to own the roads

PIC­TURE THE FOL­LOW­ING: you’re out hack­ing and you stop your horse at a set of traf­fic lights. A dou­ble-decker bus pulls up be­hind you, then a cy­clist whizzes past, clip­ping your stir­rup. Just when you think your sit­u­a­tion can’t get any worse, a ce­ment lorry pulls up in the lane next to you. A busy area is ev­ery hacker’s worst night­mare and while you may not be able to fore­see your horse’s re­ac­tion, you can help him ac­cept the sit­u­a­tion. And that, say the ex­perts at the Mounted Branch of the Lon­don City Po­lice, is key when it comes to rid­ing on the roads. “Re­cently we had to cor­don off the un­der­neath of West Ham rail­way bridge, but my horse Beau strug­gled to stand still,” says Kim, who has been part of the Lon­don City Branch for 11 years. “The bridge was low and the noise of the trains was hor­ren­dous. I had to fo­cus and find a way to make her com­fort­able. She didn’t like stand­ing at the end of the bridge by her­self so I had to com­pro­mise and put her in the mid­dle be­side the Metropoli­tan Po­lice horses. It worked. She coped.” A horse who copes when rid­den out and about isn’t the same as a horse who doesn’t re­act. He can lower his head, sniff and even tense up if he spots a ghost in a bush, but what’s cru­cial is that he doesn’t take what the Lon­don City Mounted Branch call ‘an exit at­ti­tude’ to, say, a Tesco bag stuck in the hedge. “Po­lice horses are still horses at the end of the day,” ex­plains Ian, who has been part of the Mounted Branch for 14 years. “We want to keep our horses as con­fi­dent as pos­si­ble, so it’s al­ways a work in progress – even out on pa­trol.” We tailed the po­lice on Lon­don streets to dis­cover how they cope with ex­treme road rid­ing, and what we can learn from them when deal­ing with cer­tain sit­u­a­tions while hack­ing on roads.

Op­er­at­ing from their base on Wood’s Street, the City of Lon­don’s Mounted Branch ride round the square mile of Lon­don

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