Tributes to 'cheeky and dashing' former police horse Pilot after death at 25

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Tributes have been paid to a former police horse, who had to be put to sleep to end his suffering at the age of 25.

Pilot spent seven years serving communities across the North East.

He carried out duties in Northumbria Police’s mounted section between 2008 and 2015, including working at Sunderland-Newcastle derby matches. He also managed crowds at pop concerts and Remembrance Day parades.

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The Clydesdale cross retired from the force in November 2015 and lived out the rest of his days with The Horse Trust in the Chiltern Hills, hanging out with friends Phlint and Pongo, who had themselves retired a year earlier.

Pilot suffered a large abscess on his hoof in 2019 which never fully healed. The tough decision was made to say a final goodbye to him to end his suffering.

Northumbria Police said he was a favourite with humans and horses alike “due to his cheeky personality and dashing looks”.

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His long-term rider, Pc Tony Preece said: “Pilot was a real character. He carried out his daily patrol duties with the ease and efficiency of the noble and polite gentleman he was.

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Great team. Pilot and his rider PC Tony Preece.Great team. Pilot and his rider PC Tony Preece.
Great team. Pilot and his rider PC Tony Preece.

“There was nothing he loved more than galloping along the beautiful coastlines of Northumberland, with Druridge Bay his personal favourite.

“He was a fantastic police horse who supported the force at a range of high-profile events throughout his seven years of service, as well as supporting our neighbourhood teams in tackling anti-social behaviour and offering reassurance to our communities.

“He will forever be remembered and I’m pleased he’s no longer in pain.”

The Horse Trust also paid tribute to Pilot, who saw out his days in some luxury at their 200-acre grounds in Buckinghamshire.

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Pilot was loved by humans and horses alike.Pilot was loved by humans and horses alike.
Pilot was loved by humans and horses alike.

Jeanette Allen, chief executive of the Horse Trust, added: “Pilot, there are no words to describe how much we will miss you. It is not the same here and it never will be.

"But how lucky we all were to know and care for such a gent.

“It has been our utmost privilege to serve you in your retirement over the last five years – and what an amazing time it’s been.”

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