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Shocked Brits mourn London Police horse who died suddenly at Notting Hill Carnival

Tributes have poured in on social media for a police horse who died suddenly at the Notting Hill Carnival.

Twitter users shared their distress at the news after Sandown, a 14-year-old chestnut gelding, collapsed around 9pm on Sunday at the west London event.

Among the condolences, one person wrote: “To see an animal die is tragic. The fact that this is happening so suddenly and publicly only makes it worse. My condolences to all Met Police colleagues in Sandown.

Video captures the tragic moment the horse, standing 16 hands high, topples over as an officer desperately tries to take control of its reins.

Other officers then rush to help their colleague tend to the horse, motionless on the ground.

Carnival goers can be seen watching in horror as police attempt to keep the public at bay.

Although he received emergency treatment at the scene, Sandown could not be saved and tragically died a short time later.

While most of the replies to the sad death were tributes to the horse and his colleagues, some users also pointed out who should be held accountable.

“Sorry to read this,” said one user, “hopefully there will be an investigation into this tragic scene of events.”

‘Too hot? Too old? Fright? I hope the Met will be responsible.

This is the moment a police horse collapsed and died

This is the moment a police horse collapsed and ‘suddenly’ died at Notting Hill Carnival

Witnesses said the horse looked genuinely uncomfortable as officers tried to calm him down

Witnesses said the horse looked genuinely uncomfortable as officers tried to calm him down

An eyewitness said of the incident: ‘I was around the horse for about half an hour before he collapsed and he looked really uncomfortable.

“He was constantly mumbling and the officer was trying to calm him down.

What is a chestnut gelding?

A gelding is a castrated male horse. Castration makes animals more balanced and therefore easier to handle for riders.

Meanwhile, chestnut describes the hair color of PH Sandown’s coat. Chestnut is a reddish to brown coat.

“In the end, it seemed like the heat and the environment were too much for that and it was just starting to adapt.

“It was horrible to watch, and I’ve had trouble sleeping the last few nights thinking about what happened.”

A statement describes the death as “sudden” and says an autopsy is underway.

The force states that a normal tour of duty for a mounted branch officer is a three to four hour patrol, but adds that this can be extended depending on the duty they are required to perform.

It is unclear how long PH Sandown was in service before it collapsed and died.

The 14-year-old chestnut gelding has been described as one of the Metropolitan Police’s most experienced horses, having spent an ‘impeccable’ seven years in the force.

Most police horses retire after more than a decade of service when they reach the age of 20 to 22.

The force described PH Sandown as playing “a vital role in helping London police”.

The Met said PH Sandown was gifted for the force in 2015, quickly gaining officers due to his good nature.

The force described Sandown as “a pro at policing all types of events across London”.

They added: “He demonstrated his bravery and courage in numerous football matches while also being selected to perform at the Mounted Activity Ride at Olympia and the Mounted Musical Ride.”

Police described the death as

Police described the death as ‘sudden’ and said an autopsy was being carried out

Pictured: Police desperately try to comfort the distressed horse on Sunday

Pictured: Police desperately try to comfort the distressed horse on Sunday

A police horse who died after collapsing while on duty at Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday evening has been named Police Horse (PH) Sandown alongside a picture of him.

A police horse who died after collapsing while on duty at Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday evening has been named Police Horse (PH) Sandown alongside a picture of him.

The force reported that PH Sandown has also been selected to perform at the Mounted Activity Ride at Olympia and the Mounted Musical Ride.

He went on to say, “PH Sandown was an integral part of the Mounted Branch family and much loved. He will be greatly missed by all.

The Met added that although it is too early at this point to determine the cause of death, an autopsy is underway.

The mounted branch of the Met dates back to 1760 when it was first introduced to tackle the problem of highwaymen in London.

These days, the force says it has up to 110 horses and 117 officers as part of its mounted branch who take on a much more varied role in the capital.

Their responsibilities include high visibility patrols, community engagement and specialization in crowd control at sporting events, demonstrations, public order events and state ceremonies such as Trooping the Colour.

Sandown (left) on patrol with another police horse and their officers at Wimbledon in June

Sandown (left) on patrol with another police horse and their officers at Wimbledon in June

Pictured: PH Sandown (left) and PH Urbane were able to show off their riding skills and meet furry friends at the Riding for the disabled and REACH charity event in July this year

Pictured: PH Sandown (left) and PH Urbane were able to show off their riding skills and meet furry friends at the Riding for the disabled and REACH charity event in July this year

PH Sandown (L) and PH Urbane at the Riding for the disabled and REACH association in July 2022

PH Sandown (L) and PH Urbane at the Riding for the disabled and REACH association in July 2022

The Met insists the high perspective and versatility of Mounted Branch officers make them a “valuable police resource”.

The force states that a normal tour of duty for a mounted branch officer is a three to four hour patrol, but adds that this can be extended depending on the duty they are required to perform.

It is unclear how long PH Sandown was in service before it collapsed and died.

This year’s Notting Hill Carnival was marked by several disturbing events, including the stabbing of a young man and the sexual assault of two female police officers.

The festival returned to the streets of west London last weekend after a three-year hiatus forced by coronavirus.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the biggest street carnival in Europe and around two million people are expected to attend over the bank holiday weekend.

The carnival began in 1966, when around 1,000 people attended, and is famous for its celebration of Afro-Caribbean traditions.

How horses like PH Sandown become Met Police horses and what they do when they serve

How horses are chosen

Horses are bought on the basis of temperament, size and trainability, according to the Metropolitan Police.

Ideally the animals will be supported and around four years old.

Afterwards, the horses benefit from a trial period of four weeks.

If this is successful, the training begins with a “Reassembly”.

Coaching

The initial training takes place over at least six months.

The horses remain at Imber Court throughout the period.

Then the animals are each assigned to a specially trained police officer.

They will be sent to one of the stables at the Met, will continue their training here.

Most horses are operational within 18 months.

What do the horses do

Police horses join the mounted branch team, which has a range of responsibilities.

According to the Met’s website, these include:

  • high visibility patrols
  • escort the army and the royal household in central London, which is a key role in the fight against terrorism
  • take a vital role in priority violence and crime initiatives across London
  • undertake community engagement, which helps build positive relationships with hard-to-reach communities
  • specializing in crowd control at sporting events, demonstrations, public order events and state ceremonies such as Trooping the Color
  • care and maintenance of horses and equipment

Source: The Metropolitan Police