Riding Off Into The Sunset
By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Friday, August 30, 2002
Peacock, a horse which is retiring after 17 years with the
Hampton Police Department. [Staff photo by Emily Reily]
HAMPTON - Peacock, a 17-year veteran of the Hampton Police Department Mounted Patrol, is retiring this week. His last beach patrol will be on Sunday afternoon.
"He was the leader of the team. The other horses would follow him," said Officer Joe Jones of the mounted patrol.
"He was definitely the dominant one of the bunch here," former Deputy Chief Dennis Pelletier added at the Hampton horse barn this week, as the patrol prepared to go on duty.
The patrol was formed in 1981 by Pelletier, who was a sergeant at the time. After his retirement in 1995, Pelletier continued to care for the patrol at the barn at the Tide Mill Campground off Route 1 in Hampton. Pelletier eventually purchased land in Epping and has put several other retired mounted patrol horses out to pasture, including Magic and Sundance. Peacock will soon join the others.
Pelletier recalled when the department purchased Peacock. "He was a field-trial horse. The department bought him in 1985 from a Connecticut man," Pelletier said.
Peacock, whose full name is Peacock Bay Man, is a Tennessee walking horse, and was born on August 9, 1978. Pelletier noted that Tennessee walkers are used in police work because of their ability to deal with crowds. "We start using them at age 9 or so. Police put a lot of demand on these guys, so they have to be mature," Pelletier said, noting that Magic was retired at 25 and Sundance at 30 years old.
The recent additions of two younger horses led to the retirement of Peacock, who, members of the patrol said, "broke in" a lot of new police officers over the years.
"He's been one of the easiest horses for new guys to take," added Officer Andy Jowett. "Over the last few years the newer officers would ride him at least a year. Peacock has been the one to break the new guys in."
Jowett recalled that Officer Lee Griffin was the first to ride Peacock. Several officers followed over the years, including Dan Florent, Aaron Pickering, Larry Barrett, Rich Sawyer and Barry Newcomb. Sgt. John Galvin and Pelletier trained Peacock when he came to the department.
Over the years, Peacock has seen his share of action. Pelletier recalled the horse being tormented by a bailed prisoner once.
"It was in the late 1980s," Pelletier said. "He was in the trailer, had just come off shift. It was 2 a.m. in the morning. Some prisoner who was bailed out set fire to his tail. Bob Campbell came in and said there was smoke billowing out of the trailer. Peacock lost half his tail, but we got the guy running away. He did some jail time for it."
More recently, Peacock has worked patrols that included a 2000 visit from President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.
"He's been kicked, punched. He worked a Grateful Dead concert at the Casino one night," Jones recalled. And in 1989, Peacock was judged the grand champion at the New England Mounted Police Competition.
This year Peacock has been used as a spare horse while the two newer members of the patrol have been trained. He's not gone yet, though. Peacock will make an appearance at this year's Seafood Festival, where he will be available for photographs with visiting children.
"He's been one of the easiest horses for new guys to take," added Jowett. "Over the last few years the newer officers would ride him at least a year. Peacock has been the one to break the new guys in."