Merlin the crime fighting horse retires 225

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By Karrie Gillett

A POLICE horse called Merlin is hanging up his saddle after 13 years of service.

The 17-year-old is retiring from his duties on the front line with officers at Lothian and Borders Police where he famously cleared a pitch invasion at Easter Road.

Now, the Irish Draught cross gelding, is heading for pastures new at a farm in rural Perthshire after serving as the force’s only grey crime fighting horse.

And as Merlin winds up his last days on duty, staff were quick to praise the hard-working stallion who fended off crowd trouble when Rangers won the league at Easter Road in 2005.

Sergeant Alison Humphrey, who leads the mounted section of the force, was riding Merlin on that day and also faced riots with him in the capital during the G8 summit.

She said: “I think most people in the area will have seen Merlin at some point. Some people even know him by name as he is always called up to work at the big events.

“He did fantastically the day he cleared fans off the pitch when Hibs played Rangers. He was also out every day during G8 doing an absolutely superb job.

She added: “He has been fighting crime all of his service. He really has done so much and he’s ready for retirement.

“We are excited for him in a way because he deserves some nice rest and we have found him a farm to go to which is perfectly suited to him.”

The busy 17.1 hands high horse was often spotted at the front of major parades across the capital –being used several times during the opening of parliament.

And the crime fighting regular even played a starring role in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2006 taking on an acting part.

Merlin also stood out in the city as the police’s only grey horse and will be sadly missed around the stables.

Sergeant Humphrey explained: “Merlin is a comedian, he is really the one who keeps us all laughing in the stables.

“He is always up to mischief;  he is always looking for someone to play with and someone to annoy.

“He’s a real laugh and there have been a lot of tears this week knowing that he is leaving us.

“He’s going to leave a huge, huge hole in the stables.”

Merlin has been replaced by five-year-old Clydesdale Ted who joins the team of eight horses on a month’s trial basis.

Sergeant Humphrey said: “We take horses on trial to make sure they are up to the job. Only one in three of the horses that come on trial actually make the grade.

“Merlin never had any problem, he was a hugely reliable horse and we have made sure he is going to the right home after giving us so many years of hard work.”

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