MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- He's served longer than any other horse on the Minneapolis Police mounted patrol. But after 13 years of working everything from violent protests to summer parades, Oliver the horse is heading to greener pastures.
The unit's leader, Sgt. Molly Fisher Fisher, has spent a lot of time with Oliver, the 19-year-old veteran of the patrol.
"He's the horse that we can turn to and get through the situation and other horses will follow him," Fisher said.
Ollie, as he's referred to, is the longest serving horse and has seen pretty much everything the streets can muster: From the chaos of the Republican national Convention protests to working the wild downtown bar crowds on a Saturday night.
"You are expecting them to keep you safe and at the same time that horse is expecting you to keep them safe as well. So definitely, there's a connection through all that training and doing police work with that horse that comes over those years," Fisher said.
That's what makes saying goodbye so very tough.
"He deserves his retirement," police officer Kelly Kasel said.
Kasel spent many hours working with Ollie as her partner when she began on the mounted patrol in 2001.
But after 13 years on the unit, it's time for Ollie to leave the city streets and head to greener pastures. So, for Kasel, there's one last ride in the saddle while visiting Ollie in his rural Hennepin County stables.
Watching Kasel parade Ollie around the training ring one gets the sense that this is her toughest ride yet. Not so much for the job at hand but rather, the emotional toll the departure of a close and trusted friend will take.
"He's the anchor on the unit and the other horses look up to him because he's always calm - he doesn't get fired up over pretty much anything," Kasel said.
But perhaps far more than breaking up riots or running down bad guys, Ollie's greatest gift was the gentle disposition he would bring to any situation or assignment.
"He's definitely touched many kids in the Minneapolis community by being at parades and other functions," Fisher said.
Ollie displayed calm and seemed always in control, no matter the situation. Now, there's comfort in knowing he will spend the rest of his years on green pastures instead of pavement.
"He's going to a good home, too, and that's what makes us feel really good. Knowing he's going to someone who appreciates him as much as we have," Kasel said.
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