The Mounted Squad has an authorized strength of six constables, one sergeant, two full-time civilian stable attendants and eight horses.
The stables are located in Stanley Park near the Rose Garden. The squad also uses a four-horse angle load trailer to transport the horses to elementary schools and community events.
The squad also has trading cards with pictures of the horses . You can request a trading card by approaching any of the squad members in Stanley Park or downtown.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Stanley Park have a Mounted Squad?
Mounted officers are ideal for patrolling the trails and beaches of Stanley Park. On horseback, a officer is 9 feet above the ground, giving an unrestricted view. Since Stanley Park is over 1000 acres in size with 125 miles of roads and trails, patrolling on horseback is quick and efficient. The horses are also a very effective means for controlling large crowds of people, who are more likely to move out of the way of a horse than of an officer on foot.
The mounted squad also plays an important role in public relations. An officer on horseback is much more approachable than an officer in a car – and the horses are petted and photographed by thousands of tourists every year.
What else do the members do?
Mounted squad members have the same job as any other officer, but they do their job on horseback. They write parking tickets, use radar to stop speeding vehicles, and arrest criminals. In Stanley Park they patrol the beaches to make sure people are not setting fires or drinking alcohol. They assist the Parks Board and enforce park bylaws, and also provide traffic control when movies or television commercials are being filmed in the West End.
Who can become a Mounted Squad member?
To apply to become a member of the Mounted Squad, a officer must be a first class constable with a minimum of three years on the job.
What training do the members receive?
Once accepted, new members are assigned to a senior constable in the squad. They must complete 30 to 40 hours of training in the paddock before they are allowed to go out into the park on horseback. After they have completed 100 hours of riding in the park and downtown, they receive their spurs (this usually takes about two months).
The squad members have monthly training days which include nuisance training and troop drill. Where do the horses come from?
Horses are purchased from private individuals. The Mounted Squad looks for horses that are:
- of a quiet disposition, good temperament and good with people
- at least 16 hands high
- over 5 years of age and well trained
- preferably dark in color
- able to handle being around large crowds of people, city traffic and noise.
New horses are assessed for a 30 to 60 day period before they are accepted into the squad. If the horse is found to be suitable, he is assigned his own badge number.
What training do the horses receive?
A horse must have a quiet disposition and be able to stand still for long periods of time. Most importantly, he must listen to his rider no matter what distractions may be nearby – crowds of people, loud noises, or vehicles. Consequently, the most important part of a horse’s schooling is “Nuisance Training”.
Nuisance training involves introducing the horse to various foreign objects and noises that he could encounter while on patrol. In the paddock at the Mounted Squad stables, the horses are ridden around and over items such as bridges, shopping carts, plastic, newspaper, and the ‘can man’ – a scarecrow filled with tin cans. horses must remain calm when faced with unexpected or unwelcome events, so the horse is trained to stand still when an umbrella is opened in his face, a ball is rolled between his feet, and when plastic and other objects touch his body. The horses are also acclimatized to gun shots, firecrackers and smoke bombs (to simulate tear gas or smoke from a fire).
Once the horse is used to being around the nuisance items in the paddock, he is taken out into Stanley Park and the West End to familiarize him with large groups of people, buses and cars.
Who looks after the horses?
The officers are responsible for grooming their horses before riding them, putting on their tack (bridle and saddle) and cleaning the tack at the end of the day. They also provide first aid treatment for their horses.
The stable attendants feed the horses, keep the barn clean, groom and exercise the horses that are not on patrol for the day, and make sure that any horses who are injured or sick receive the proper medication.
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