The future of the police's much loved Mounted Section remains uncertain - with the use of special constables and sponsorship being considered as one way of keeping the service going.

The sight of officers on horseback has always had a reassuring effect on the public and there was a strong public reaction when Thames Valley police announced the Mounted Section was earmarked for abolition in June next year, as the force struggles to make up for a £4million shortfall in its budget.

This week Chief Constable Francis Habgood was only able to offer a glimmer of hope, after meeting members of the section earlier this month.

He said he had been impressed by their passion and the work they had done to put their case.

But he said: "We agreed that over the next few months they will collate additional data around their deployments, the income they generate from other forces and their costs. They will also explore opportunities for using Special Constables within the team and further funding streams, for example through sponsorship. We agreed that we would meet again in October."

He said he was grateful for the wide following he knew the mounted section enjoyed but warned: "I have made no promises about the Mounted Section in the future as with the uncertainty about future budgets that would be reckless, but I can assure everybody that I am working with the team to ensure that any decision is made using the best evidence around their contribution to policing in Thames Valley."