A top pedigree pack of former racehorses have gone off the beaten track to help police in Dubai keep communities safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
The four-legged officers are riding high as part of the Dubai Mounted Police Unit diligently carrying out nightly patrols to ensure members of the public are adhering to strict stay-home orders put in place to combat the virus.
The National joined police on horseback as they saddled up for action to catch out those flouting crucial orders.
In the Al Aweer area, Capt Dhahi Al Jallaf set out the plan for the evening to sixteen officers asked to gallop through eight different parts of the emirate on shifts lasting until 6am the next day.
“The horses are used for securing areas that are not easily reachable by patrol cars such as narrow lanes and beaches,” explained Capt Al Jallaf as he put saddles on 18-year-old Olkan and 21-year-old Pareshyam.
“Every day our veterinarians check the condition of the horses and make sure they are in good health. For us it’s priority to ensure the safety of not only Dubai’s residents but also of our horses and police officers.”
The equine enforcers underwent three-months of rigorous training before joining the police ranks.
Their role during turbulent times is significant. A 24-hour mandatory stay-home order currently in place in Dubai was extended for a further week on Friday.
Residents can only leave their homes for essential trips, such as to pick up groceries, and must apply for a permit from police to do so.
The horses are loaded on to trucks and transported to the assigned locations.
“For each area, we deploy a pair of horses. We cover residential and commercial areas such as Jumeirah, Al Barsha, Al Diyafah, Rashidiya, Al Jafiliya, Al Qusais, Hor Al Anz, Satwa, Bur Dubai and so on. Every day, we receive a list of areas from the police headquarters,” said Capt Al Jallaf.
“Our main duty is to make sure people stay in their homes. If we find anyone, other than essential workers, on the streets without a movement permit, we check their Emirates IDs, and depending on the situation we either give them a warning or issue a fine.
"If our officers spot anything uncommon on the streets, such as an accident, they immediately report it to the Command Control Centre so that they can take further steps.”
The Dubai Mounted Police department was established in 1976 with seven horses, five riders and four horse groomers.
Today it boasts more than 130 Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, 75 riders and 45 groomers. Not all horses are used for patrolling. Many are used for crowd controlling, where they are required to help usher people from one location to another.
“When we started our campaign against the virus a month ago, we saw many people on the streets.
"But now the streets are empty. We are happy that residents are conscientiously following the government’s orders and we want to thank them for their cooperation. God willing, we will soon overcome the pandemic,” Capt Al Jallaf said.