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What Horse Breeds Do Police Use? (with Pictures)

Ashley Bates

Back in the old days, we relied on horses for everything from transportation to agriculture. Once modern advancements took off, the need for horses declined drastically. However, police officers today still rely on horses to patrol certain parts of towns or cities. Have you ever wondered what types of horses mounted police officers use?

The truth is, it depends on the area. Different countries use different breeds. Let’s learn a bit about these horses and why they are excellent matches for mounted police.

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Mounted Police: What is the Job All About?

Using horses in modern culture can seem outdated to some. You might see one or two pulling a carriage in a snowfall setting or see people leisurely out riding for fun—but you rarely see one in the line of duty. However, mounted police have a deep need for equine coworkers still today.

So, why might someone elect a horse for duty? Mounted police ride horses for a few different reasons. It can definitely depend on the area, population, and situation. Mounted police horses are skilled in the following situations:

  • Riots – Riots can be highly intimidating to regular officers sometimes. There is quite a bit of danger involved, especially if an officer is on foot. Being in those types of situations is much more manageable on horseback. The large size of the horse deters criminal activity by promoting healthier outcomes to an otherwise out-of-control situation. The extra height advantage also allows the officer to see longer distances. If something goes on that requires immediate attention, law enforcement can get to the situation more efficiently.
  • Rural Area Patrol – There are rural areas that are not as easily accessible as main drags in populated areas. Situations that require border control or perimeter monitoring are best on horseback. Horses can cover an extensive range on rough terrain for long periods. They can also access areas where police vehicles cannot go.
  • Crowded Spaces – If there is a large event going on where police need to keep an eye on things, riding a horse is highly beneficial for a few reasons. First, it makes it very easy for people to see the police officer since they are elevated. Horses are also intimidating in size, which can deter people from getting out of control. Navigating through a large crowd on a horse rather than in a cruiser is a much more simplistic, easy route in comparison.
Police officer on a horse
Image Credit: GLady, Pixabay

Thankfully, our horse friends are incredibly easy to train and work with. Certain breeds make better mounted police horses than others. Sometimes it also depends on the type of police work they will be helping perform. Certain horses do better on specific types of terrain. One might work better in the rough rural territory; another would work better on a city street.

Temperament says a lot also about what horse works better where. If you have a calm, docile horse, they might work better in a high-intensity, stressful situation. Whereas if you have a more relaxed environment, you might be able to have a horse that’s just a tad more high-strung.

Let’s learn a little bit about the most popular choices among mounted police. The list doesn’t end here. Lots of horses are called upon to help officers all over the world. But these eight choices are excellent candidates that are most often chosen.

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1. Percheron

The impressively stout Percheron is a horse hailing from France. They are known for their muscular elegance and work ethic. It’s no wonder that they are top choices for mounted police.

Percheron Horse in the shed
Image Credit: marcelot87, Pixabay

History

Historically, Percherons were used to pull enormous amounts of weight. They are impressive in structure, making them ideal for weight-pulling competitions and laborious tasks.

Physical Traits 

Percherons are stunningly well-muscled, standing 16 to 17 hands high. They weigh between 1,900 and 2,100 pounds and have thick curved necks and broad, burly chests. Percherons can be in several colors, most commonly black and gray.

Personality

Percherons are charming horses with a willingness to learn and work. Because they are so receptive and gentle, it makes them ideal candidates for police.


2. Belgium

As a shorter stout draft breed, the Belgium, or Belgium Draft horse, has an excellent work ethic and a calm temperament. Because of their desire to please, they do very well in areas where mounted police monitor activity.

Belgian Draft Horse
Image Credit: Anne Norman, Wikimedia Commons

History

The Belgium Draft horse is the strongest of all the draft breeds being solid and capable of learning just about anything. Humans have relied on them for work-related labor for several hundred years.

Physical Traits 

Belgium horses are very stout, muscular horses that stand roughly 17 hands high. They have gorgeous leg feathering and typically come in chestnut, sorrel, or blonde.

Personality

Belgium horses are very mild and gentle. They make excellent candidates for working with people due to their docile, friendly demeanor.


3. Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is a widespread breed—and for a good reason. They come in handy for all sorts of things, from everyday riding to competing in shows.

American Quarter Horse, red roan
Image Credit: Betty Wills (Atsme), Wikimedia Commons

History

The Quarter Horse is an American horse bred in the 1600s for short spurts of speedy movement. Even though they work well for these tasks, they have earned their proficiency in many areas.

Physical Traits 

Quarter Horses are short and stocky, with perfect builds for running. Quarter Horses stand roughly 15 hands high. They come in quite a few color variations, such as sorrel, roan, palomino, black, gray, brown, chestnut, dun, grullo, buckskin, and dun.

Personality

Quarter Horses are eager to please and curious. They like to learn new things, which makes them excellent candidates for training.


4. Thoroughbred

Initially, Thoroughbreds were developed for tasks like racing and jumping. But as time passed, the value of these horses rose tremendously, since they are multi-skilled.

Thoroughbred Horse
Image Credit: alessandro ceccucci, Pixabay

History

Thoroughbred horses are used so frequently throughout history to create different breeds that we know and love today. Thoroughbreds have such desirable traits that we look for, serving many areas of expertise.

Physical Traits 

Thoroughbreds stand approximately 16 hands high. They come in five acceptable coat colors: black, chestnut, gray, bay, and white. White markings on the legs and face are also .

Personality

Thoroughbreds are considered hot-blooded horses, which means that they are spirited, energetic, and keenly sharp. They are not for the faint of heart, making them sometimes challenging to train but rewarding at the same time.


5. Dutch Warmblood

Dutch Warmbloods are best known for roles in showjumping and related tasks. Their quickness and steady gait allow them to perform with accuracy and precision.

Dutch Warmblood horse
Image Credit: Remy Overkempe, Wikimedia Commons

History

This breed has roots dating back to pre-World War II. It was melded from Dutch breeds—the Groningen and Gelderlander.

Physical Traits 

These horses are muscular and tall, standing roughly 15 to 16 hands high.  They are typically brown, black, gray, or chestnut with white markings.

Personality

Dutch Warmbloods are extremely intelligent and eager to go, go, go. So, it’s no surprise that they make terrific mounted police horses for their upbeat, positive demeanor.


6. Tennessee Walker

Tennessee Walkers are known for their quick-gaited step and well-rounded trot. They provide a smooth, seamless riding experience for riders, making them ideal picks for mounted police.

tennessee walking horse_Shutterstock_Smeerjewegproducties
Image Credit: Smeerjewegproducties, Shutterstock

History

The Tennessee Walker was initially developed in the United States to work on farms and plantations. Many horses—such as Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Canadian Pacers—came together to form this breed.

Physical Traits 

These horses typically stand between 14 and 15 hands high. Any color within the equine spectrum is acceptable.

Personality

Because of their soft, sweet demeanor they are well-suited for all experience levels and age groups.


7. Hanoverian

The Hanoverian is considered one of the most accomplished horses of all warmbloods. Because of their grand athleticism and good temperament, they are selected for mounted police duties on many teams.

hanoverian-pixabay
Image Credit: ImkeSchulze, Pixabay

History

These warm-blooded horses originated in Germany. For years, they competed in equestrian Olympic games and other competitions.

Physical Traits 

Hanoverians are very elegant and sturdy. They can be quite tall, measuring between 15 and 17 hands high. Hanoverian horses come in all solid colors, but they cannot have any markings of white or other patterns.

Personality

Hanoverian horses are described as bold, courageous, and willing to work. Their quickness and charm help them adapt to any working situation.


8. Spotted Saddle Horse

Spotted Saddle Horses have a remarkably steady gait for a great riding experience. Their smooth trot allows officers to ride without issue—so it’s no wonder that these graceful equines are often chosen for mounted police duties.

National Spotted Saddle Horse
Image Credit: Just chaos, Wikimedia Commons

History

These horses are the result of crossing Tennessee Walker horses with Spanish ponies. The combination created a gentle, exceptionally smooth horse with a balanced body.

Physical Traits 

These horses range from 14 to 16 hands high. As the name implies, the Spotted Saddle Horse is typically two bold color combinations. They can be any color or pattern except pinto.

Personality

These horses are widely known for being extraordinarily well-mannered and friendly. Since they are calm and receptive, they make excellent candidates for any type of training work. Their stamina also helps in this arena.

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Popular Areas for Mounted Police

You can find mounted police in practically every country in the world. Interestingly, you can find mounted police riding horses, but camels are also a popular choice in some countries.

Some mounted police stations include:

  • Metropolitan Mounted Police Branch in Greater London
  • New South Wales Mounted Police
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Royal Oman Police
  • US Border Patrol
police officers
Image Credit: ZeeChow, Pixabay

Several other places have mounted police in certain situations, too.

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Final Thoughts

It’s impressive to reflect on just how much horses have helped humanity thrive since their domestication. Although their roles in our lives have changed drastically, they are still very needed today. Horses help mounted police forces from every continent monitor, patrol, and serve many areas.

While this doesn’t complete the long list of horses that assist law enforcement, you now know what type of horse traits they look for in their equine partners.


Featured Image: Stewart Butterfield, Wikimedia Commons

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.