For two years, he's patrolled busy streets and packed crowds. Now the faithful police horse named Trooper has a new gig with the Equestrian Association for the Disabled (TEAD).
The eight-year-old Percheron was one of four horses used to launch Hamilton Police Service's mounted patrol unit two years ago. Earlier this year, he developed arthritis, which made him unable to handle the long shifts required of a police horse.
Police services board members voted Monday to donate him to TEAD, where he will join 16 other horses to carry disabled children and adults around a Mount Hope farm.
It's the perfect job for Trooper, who is renowned for his gentle personality and even temper, said Inspector Scott Rastin.
"Usually it takes a year and a half to have a horse that can function as a police horse, and can go through traffic and disturbances and not be scared," Rastin said.
"But before Trooper had a year of training, he was on the road by himself. He was that good a horse."
Trooper has dealt with many chaotic scenes during his time with the unit. He was a common sight during rowdy late nights at Hess Village. He was an important part of the police presence at last year's Occupy protest in Hamilton.
Trooper and officer Preston Gabriele even won first place in the uniform division of the North American Police Equestrian Championship.
Trooper's large size and even temper make him a good fit for TEAD, said board member Patricia MacInnis.
"He sounds like a very gentle boy," she said. "No horse is bomb proof, but we try to get horses that are as bomb proof as possible."
Riding horses is good therapy for TEAD's 120 riders, MacInnis said. Riders can feel a full range of movement, in addition to the feeling of liberation.
"When we put our riders on the back of a horse, they are able to feel what like to be an able bodied person," she said.
The unit is training a new horse. There will be a "name the horse" competition announced soon, Rastin said.