Royal Mail’s Working Horses special issue, to be released on February 4, salutes the contribution horses make to working life in the UK, from ceremonial functions to police work.

Besides the estimated 900,000 privately-owned horses in the UK, another 88,000 are owned and worked by professionals.

Royal Mail thinks of this set of six as a sequel to the Working Dogs issue of 2008, which it says was very popular.

Designed by Michael Denny and Harold Batten, it was printed in litho by Cartor.

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH    

There’s no obvious anniversary marked here, so it’s a purely thematic issue

QUALITY OF DESIGN    

It’s a good range of well-chosen photographs, with just enough variety in them

WOW FACTOR    

Horses have many devotees, but these stamps will make few people sit up and take notice

1st class King’s Troop Ceremonial Horses

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, a mounted unit of the British Army, is responsible for firing royal salutes on state occasions, and provides a gun carriage and a team of horses for state and military funerals. The 111 horses of the King’s Troop are based at a purpose-built facility at Woolwich Garrison in south-east London.

1st class Riding for the Disabled Association

The Riding for the Disabled Association has been building on the bond between horses and humans to provide therapy for people with disabilities since the 1960s.

More than 500 volunteer groups enable around 30,000 people a year to enjoy riding, carriage-driving, vaulting and showjumping at RDA centres, building up their skills and confidence, and improving their physical stability.

88p Dray Horses

Faster transport options have brought a decline in the once-familiar brewery dray horses, but their ability to negotiate busy city streets and avoid traffic jams means they retain a practical purpose.

For their strength and size, shire horses have always been the popular choice, and a few breweries keep promotional show teams which attend parades and summer fairs around the country.

88p Royal Mews Carriage Horses

Supporting the Royal Household, the carriage horses of the Royal Mews are integral to ceremonial events such as Trooping the Colour, and state functions such as conveying newly appointed High Commissioners and Ambassadors to their first audience with the Queen.

Ten of the 30 horses are Windsor greys, named after where they were originally stabled. Grey horses have drawn carriages for the royal family since Queen Victoria’s reign.

£1.28 Police Horses

The police first used horses in the late 18th century, to combat highwaymen. Their 21st-century successors are more likely to be seen helping with crowd control at public events, but they also offer an effective aid to community policing. The ideal police horse is imposingly large, but undergoes rigorous training to ensure that it remains calm and responds well under pressure.

£1.28 Forestry Horse

Horses can negotiate woodland with minimal ecological impact, extracting timber without compacting soil or damaging standing trees and wildlife.

Stocky breeds, such as the dales and fell pony, excel at this sort of work, and it also offers breeds that are at risk, such as Clydesdale and Suffolk punch, a role which can promote a recovery in their numbers.

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by Dr Elaine Walker, investigates how the relationship between humans and horses has evolved.

As ever, a first day cover and stamp cards are also available.

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps    £5.52

Presentation pack    £6.05

Stamp cards    £2.70

First day envelope    £0.30

First day cover    £7.10

TOTAL         £21.67