For the Police, in case of emergencies, we call 999.  For a really fantastic insight into the world mounted policing, call “Alan Hiscox”!  For fire, look at Alan’s pictures!

Wimbledon Village Club was the venue on 2 April 2019 when Alan, now Director of Safety at the British Horse Society (BHS), thrilled and entertained us, with a superb presentation about his experiences in the Mounted Branch of the London Metropolitan Police (“the Met”).  Tickets were sold out. With both riding and policing to hear about, the hall was packed full, with riders and many non-riders too.

How does Alan do it? – getting horses to jump through hoops of fire, in front of an excitable Olympia audience; coordinate those breathtaking displays; the exceptional riding skills; horses jumping through covered hoops, tearing through apparently solid objects.  As well as speaking, Alan was fully equipped to provide us with pictures and video clips.

There was a clip of Alan on the news, showing not only his attention to detail but his sense of humour.  “How long did you have to practice for” the journalist asked Alan as he dismounted at the end of the display.  Alan – coolly tongue in cheek and a wry smile – “Oh we just turned up and did it on the spot”!

Before the mounted branch, Alan went through full basic police training; arresting burglars, working with the police dogs, working with great characters in the force and then there was the introduction to horses.  There were some tight scrapes – Alan was persuaded by a camera crew in Hyde Park to pose on horseback in their scene with a model. When the picture was published in a tabloid newspaper his boss was not best pleased!

Alan served 32 years in the Met; 26 being in the Mounted Branch, achieving Chief Equitation Officer.  He led the Met mounted police display ride for 14 years at the Horse of the Year Show and Olympia. He supported the Spanish Riding School of Vienna on their tour of the UK; he was told under no circumstances to try riding their horses but actually it was the Spanish school that asked to ride the police horses.  He is widely travelled, having acted as a consultant to mounted police units around the world, giving advice on tactics and strategy to chief police officers on the use of horses.

Later we saw pictures of the United States’ police training their horses on desensitisation – including big fires, noisy crowds and flag waving.  There were pictures of actual riots in this country, mounted police lined up, protecting property but with tactics to balance the risks to all, including the demonstrators.  Those experiences gave valuable feedback to the police for more ideas on desensitisation; that time the horses encountered a giant grim reaper character! – on my goodness!

Alan is a high achiever.  He works and trains methodically.  He breaks tasks down for the horses in to manageable pieces and then builds them up.  As the show builds, Alan’s aims are – always bigger, always better. He combines this drive with a real sensitivity for horse, students and colleagues alike, always generous and outward looking about his great achievements.  He is an expert and passionate horseman, leading world expert on mounted crowd control and a skilled trainer. His law enforcement experiences are fascinating.

Alan kindly took questions – training of the horses, selection, well-being, tactics, risks and learning.  The last question went to Caroline, about the use of double bridles on the horses – Alan referred to the military tradition for this and extra control it provides.  It was then that a marvelous evening came to a close. Thank you to Alan for a fabulous evening. We are all looking forward to your next visit to WVS.