Real Lives: Alison riding high after prestigious award win

Sergeant Humphrey accepting her award from actor Martin Clunes
Sergeant Humphrey accepting her award from actor Martin Clunes
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A mounted police officer has been honoured at The British Horse Society annual awards ceremony.

Sergeant Alison Humphrey, 48, was recently presented with a Tarquin Trophy for making a significant contribution to equestrian safety at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony in London.

Through her work, Sergeant Humphrey, who is based at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes, has successfully developed methods for desensitising horses and has taken her equestrian safety roadshow all over Scotland.

Sergeant Humphrey, who lives in Tranent and received her award at the Saddler’s Hall in London last month from actor Martin Clunes – President of The British Horse Society – said: “It was absolutely brilliant to win the award, it just came completely out of the blue. I was nominated for it by the Scottish branch of The British Horse Society.

“Lothian and Borders Police work tirelessly to improve road safety. To be recognised by such an important charity for contributing to force community priorities in such a way is an honour for the whole mounted team.”

Desensitising horses involves a gradual training programme to overcome the horse’s natural reaction to run away from perceived danger.

Sergeant Humphrey’s technique is unusual as it involves training road safety as a separate discipline for the horse and rider.

She added: “A horse’s natural reaction to any danger is to run away from it, so it’s getting people to work with their own horses so it doesn’t happen on the road.

“We introduce, in really controlled environments, some of the hazards that they might meet when they’re out on the road. Usually the first thing is something like a wheelie bin.

“Noises we quite often use are old-fashioned ghetto blasters or bells, or a car horn going off. The biggest thing we have had to train police horses to do is to stand still when a gun is fired.”

Sergeant Humphrey, who has been in charge of the mounted section at Lothian and Borders Police for nine years, has been in the police for 26 years – 17 of which have been spent as a sergeant.

She has also represented the force at the Royal Highland Show and the Blair International Horse Trials, providing valuable road safety advice to riders.

Chief Superintendent Derek Robertson, divisional Commander for operations division, said: “I would like to congratulate Alison on her success, which is very well deserved. To be recognised by such a prestigious organisation for her outstanding contribution to horse and rider safety is fantastic.”

Sergeant Humphrey has been riding since she was just six years old and got her first horse at the age of 18.