Retired PPB Mounted Patrol horse providing comfort to people wit - KPTV - FOX 12

Retired PPB Mounted Patrol horse providing comfort to people with disabilities

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

After nearly 40 years, the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol Unit was disbanded in June 2017. Many of the horses went back to their original farms and ranches but one has found a new career.

In many ways, Olin's life is a lot easier now. The 20-year-old draft horse, affectionately called the "Old Man," served Portland for nine years, working everything from crowd control to downtown protests.

Those years of street smarts he gained on patrol, coupled with his own horse-sense, Olin makes the perfect therapy horse for those with disabilities.

Olin now works at Forward Stride with physical therapist Sheila Stahl Butler, who says Olin takes everything in stride.

"He's been kicked, hit, thrown things at. Nothing bothers him, he's just rock solid," said Stahl Butler.

The horse patrol veteran, battle-tested from his years of police work, is now paired up with another veteran who is both battle-tested and battle-scarred.

In 2012 just before his 21st birthday, Alex Hussey was on patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED. He lost both legs and three of his fingers. He also suffered internal injuries including a brain injury.

"I think the first thing I remember is the extreme pain," said Hussey.

Going on six years of rehab now, it is still hard but the fact that Hussey can do any of this is a testament to his own will.

Rehab therapy can be tedious and boring, but Hussey loves horses and finds horse therapy relaxing even if it's a lot of work.

Hussey is not ready to ride but he is determined. One day - on his own - he hopes to mount a horse and then ride off.

Olin is Hussey's motivation as he learns to work his wounded body, even standing on his new set of legs.

"We have a pretty positive outlook on all this. My thinking is Alex is still here, he still has a lot of life left in him," said Hussey's wife, Kim. "He is a very happy and energetic guy, and he has a lot of goals to meet."

Hussey says he shares a bond with Olin - after all, in different ways, they both served.

Hussey and his wife hope to start a family one day and to have a horse farm.

To learn more about Forward Stride, visit https://forwardstride.org/

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