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FROM the VAULT – They’re off and racing…

…well, not really.  But they are trained and ready for anything, and often they are former racehorses re-purposed for policing duties in the Stock Squad or the Mounted Police Unit.

Versatile Constable Lawrence Noel Witham commenced his policing career in rural locations including Longreach, Muttabutta and Forsayth.  The young Laurie Witham is seen here shoeing his troop horse Bomber whilst a Constable, and continued to enjoy horse-riding as he progressed through the ranks to become Assistant Commissioner.

Constable Laurie Witham shoeing a troop horse at Forsayth in 1963. Image No. PM0889 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

Constable Laurie Witham shoeing a troop horse at Forsayth in 1963.
Image No. PM0889 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

Not an ex-racehorse, of course, little Laguna Flash was a mascot at the Queensland Police Academy for an impressive 18 years, between January 1975 and October 1993.  The black Shetland pony was born in Moggill and purchased for $200 by the Mounted Police Unit.  Laguna Flash attended to official police functions wearing either summer or winter ceremonial dress, complete with a gold medallion.

Academy mascot Laguna Flash, wearing his purple coat and medallion, standing on the Sacred Acre at the Oxley Police Academy, c1985. Image No. PM3347b courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

Academy mascot Laguna Flash, wearing his purple coat and medallion, standing on the Sacred Acre at the Oxley Police Academy, c1985.
Image No. PM3347b courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

And from the Vedette, April 1980 – “During a short but moving retirement ceremony after a police career spanning 34 years, Sergeant Andy Coyne was presented with an oil painting of himself and Townruler, the horse he had ridden for nine years whilst working in the Mounted Police Unit.  Townruler was a former racehorse, and had been presented to the Department by his owner Mrs Jean Judge of Pittsworth after he had tendon trouble.  The Commissioner said he had been told that Townruler was devoted to Andy, as Andy was to him, he didn’t think Townruler could be happy separated from Andy and suggested Andy take his friend into retirement with him and onto his property at Grandchester.”

Sergeant 2/c Andy Coyne, astride former racehorse turned Mounted Unit troop horse Townruler, at the time of their joint retirement in 1980. Image No. PM0090 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

Sergeant 2/c Andy Coyne, astride former racehorse turned Mounted Unit troop horse Townruler, at the time of their joint retirement in 1980.
Image No. PM0090 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

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This information has been supplied by the Queensland Police Museum from the best resources available at the time of writing.  The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E: [email protected]

“FROM the VAULT- They’re off and racing…” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/au/legalcode

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