Russian President Vladimir Putin mounted a horse on Thursday and cantered with female police officers in footage broadcast across Russia ahead of International Women's Day.

Putin has carefully cultivated a macho image during his 19 years in power with photo-ops depicting him riding a horse bare-chested in Siberia, taking a dip in icy water, and piloting a firefighting plane.

The 66-year-old leader, whose ratings have slipped in recent months, was shown on state television in jeans and a jacket with a raised collar, riding a brown horse flanked by female police officers on white horses.

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