The Lexington Police Department’s mounted unit has two new recruits, and like most new officers, they’ll undergo a lengthy training process before they hit the streets.
The department’s two new Clydesdale horses, named Winchester and Remington, are not only untrained in police work, but they also have never been saddled or ridden.
Sgt. Joey Eckhardt said the horses are brothers and were donated to the police by a Mount Sterling woman.
Remington, who will be 5 years old this year, has “a little bit more playful” personality, Eckhardt said, while big brother Winchester will turn 6 this year and is more serious.
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Both have plenty to offer in the size department: Winchester stands 18.2 hands tall, and Remington is 16.3, Eckhardt said.
These are the first Clydesdales in the Lexington Police Department’s mounted unit, and Eckhardt said Clydesdales have a reputation for making good police horses.
“They’re a draft horse. They generally have a more easygoing spirit,” he said. “They’re bred to be strong and have level heads.”
Remington and Winchester have been at the police department’s barn downtown for about four weeks now and have begun their training with Stephanie Keeley, a professor of equine studies at Midway University who has experience training police horses.
Keeley said their inexperience being ridden is actually a benefit when it comes to training them for police work.
“You can pretty much set the foundation that you want from day one,” Keeley said in an article posted on the police department’s website. “I don’t have to worry about changing something they may have already been taught that doesn’t fit what this department needs.”
Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said Keeley is “starting out slow” with the Clydesdales, but so far, “we are very pleased with their progress.”
“They’re social. They’re eager to learn,” she said.
And they reacted well to having their ears trimmed with clippers, probably for the first time, last week, in preparation for a visit from Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, Eckhardt said.
Winchester and Remington join six other horses and seven riders in the mounted unit.
The unit lost one of its horses, Finley, unexpectedly in December, and a few others are nearing retirement age, Eckhardt said.
The police department hopes Winchester and Remington will be fully trained and ready for all police duties in about a year.