South Yorkshire’s oldest police horse retires after 16 years’ service

It’s time to hang up the headcollar for one of the longest serving members of South Yorkshire police force.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 2:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:00 pm
Oakwell (George) on duty

Police horse Oakwell, fondly known as George within the ranks, will work his final shift next month after 16 years of loyal service.

Oakwell, a handsome grey, has currently served the most years within the mounted section, and will trot out on duty for the last time on March Oakwell stadium. Born on a North Yorkshire farm in May, 1996, the sparky gelding arrived at South Yorkshire Police in November 2002.

It is traditional for new horses to be named after a local town, village or district, so George became Oakwell.  He has been a familiar face at football grounds across the country, and was in London for the policing of the 2012 Olympic Games.  Temporary police sergeant David Driver joined the mounted section in the same year as Oakwell.

He said: “Oakwell, or George, as we call the old boy, is part of the furniture at Ring Farm.

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“We have worked closely together, as colleagues.

“That is what police horses are; they are your colleagues who you build trusting, working relationships with.  “He has been fantastic and deserves to hang up his horseshoes and have a happy retirement after 16 years of hard work and faithful service to the force.

“He hasn’t put a hoof wrong and has attended hundreds of events and incidents over the years, showing himself to be a first-rate police horse.

“He turns 23 shortly after he leaves us, so he’s definitely ready to retire.”  During his service, Oakwell has gone through 188 sets of horseshoes and eaten 87,600kg of hay; he has also taken part in 154 training sessions.

Since he came into service, the mounted unit has bought 17 other horses, nine of which have retired before him!  Oakwell will be re-homed for his retirement, and his former police colleagues kept informed of his condition.