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Clydesdale cheats death before joining thin blue line

By Will Clark

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Shane Rogers trained Turbine for his former owner Jane Cormack.
Shane Rogers trained Turbine for his former owner Jane Cormack.

BECOMING part of the long “hoof” of the law was a million-to-one chance for a Clydesdale horse which almost died soon after being born.

Turbine required a life-saving operation at just two months old and his then Caithness owner Jane Cormack feared he would not pull through. Eight years later, he is now trotting among the country’s elite ridden horses as a part of Police Scotland crowd control operations in Glasgow.

Despite no longer being at her stables at The Ha, Durran, Mrs Cormack (63) is still in regular contact and said he is progressing well through the ranks.

“I have a son who is with the police force who enquired about Turbine when he was training at the college and he is getting on fine,” she said.

“This is the first horse that we have bred that has gone on to join the police force and it is quite unusual for a stable in Caithness – I’m not aware of anyone else who has done that.”

Turbine was the progeny of a Clydesdale mare called Snowflake and a stallion, The President, who died shortly after the foal was born.

There were worries Turbine might not survive past three months after suffering a hernia and Thurso vet Bridget Holt was required to carry out an emergency operation.

Thankfully he pulled through and Turbine grew from strength to strength, going on to be trained at Cogle Farm near Watten under the guidance of owner Sarah Rogers for six-week periods.

Mrs Rogers (39) said it was clear from his quiet temperament and strong work ethic that Turbine would go on to be a working horse. His progress since joining the police force marked him as a high calibre animal.

“Our training involved teaching the horse how to be led, how to be tied up, general manners as well as being ridden, as it takes a lot for a horse to accept someone on their back,” she said.

“There was always something very special about him and I thought he would be good at something like a police or hunting horse.

“He was unflappable – he thrived on work and didn’t want any time off. He had to be at work every day.

“Nothing fazed him and I think that is what attracted the police to take him on.”

While back at Mrs Cormack’s stable, he was loaned out to George Skinner, of Strathorn Farm, at Pitcaple in Aberdeenshire, one of the country’s leading Clydesdale breeders. There, he was sold to a private buyer before being sold off to Police Scotland, when Turbine was put through an eight-week spell of intensive training before being accepted by the force.

The horse is in regular demand to be on duty at events which require crowd control such as football matches and public demonstrations.

Despite receiving regular updates about his progress, Mrs Cormack admits she misses Turbine but said he was tailor-made to work with the police.

“Turbine wasn’t bred to join the police force, it is just something that happened when he caught somebody’s attention.

“As well as having an excellent temperament, he was a lovely, gentle horse and we’re proud of what he has achieved.”

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