Tuesday we went to the Mounted Police Unit to tour the facility, learn the duties and responsibilities of the unit, and meet the officers and their equine partners. As a life-long horse enthusiast and long time equestrian I was particularly interested in seeing the training that is involved in the process of transforming a green horse into a nearly bombproof police horse. The obedience and trust these horses possess in their officer mounts is incredible and the bond and partnership between the horse and the officer is immediately apparent when you see the two working together.
Through careful and patient training these horses learn to trust the officer and become desensitized to sounds, sights, and smells that would normally spook or startle a horse. The officer explained that most horses that are considered to become police horses are not suitable for the job because they do not have the temperament necessary to make a safe and effective police horse. Most horses that first come into the program go through a trial period so the officers can have time to determine whether the horse is suitable for the job or not.’
Similarly, I thought it a bit amusing that they only have geldings as police horses and do not have any mares in the station. The officer explained that they do this because it would cause more problems in the social dynamic between the horses if there were both geldings and mares in the barn.
Furthermore, I thought it was interesting that the officers compete in competitions all over the United States and in Canada. I never realized that the mounted police competed against other mounted police departments across the country. Apparently, the Lexington Mounted Police department is very competitive and has won numerous competitions.
The department also hosts equine clinics and demonstrations to educate the public on what is involved in the training of police horses and to help raise money for the department and equine partners.
Overall, I really enjoyed this field trip. It was interesting to see what is involved in training the police horses and the day to day duties and responsibilities of the mounted police department