Pro-Test Protest

I dropped in on the Oxford demo earlier today, and caught a bit of my Magdalen colleague John Stein’s speech, followed by a bit of Evan Harris, the local MP. Not quite as big as I thought it was going to be, but good to see it happening, nevertheless.

But what really caught my attention were the police-horses. Usually I don’t like seeing police-horses on the streets of central Oxford. They’re too big, they crap everywhere that my bike tyres are likely to go, and I’m not quite sure why they’re supposed to be necessary for whatever goes on in the middle of the town. But since they’ve started appearing in the news, I’ve been paying a bit more attention, and what struck me today is that they go round in colour-coordinated groups. On the one hand, there are the big brown horses, kitted out in the kind of borderline-luminous yellow stuff that cyclists sometimes wear after dark, including natty yellow ankle bands. And on the other hand, there are the big cream or white horses, which have dark socks and big kneepads. So what’s the difference here? Is one lot for cavalry charges and the other lot for crowd control? Or something else? And is this a general phenomenon, or just confined to Oxford?

UPDATE [4pm]: Thames Valley Police has an FAQ page about its horses, but the Qs I’m interested in aren’t asked sufficiently F to make the cut. And there’s a picture of an Oxford horse with the natty ankle bands here (though this isn’t a pic from either of today’s demos).

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