It was amazing to watch the horses ad riders galloping around without ever running into each other. Tom Best photo

RCMP ride into equestrian past at Exhibition grounds

PHOTOS and story from the RCMP Musical Ride in Smithers.

It’s one of those things that is quintessentially Canadian and most of us know about.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of those things that many Canadians never get to see in the flesh.

The RCMP Musical Ride has been around for a long time and is a demonstration of the many important skills that were so important in the past when horse riding skills and equestrian teamwork were much more essential on a daily basis to all members of the force.

In the early days of RCMP, there was only horse and rider — no car, no motorcycle, no aircraft. Members walked or rode.

In the great expanse of that Northwest territory that the force was designed to patrol, without horse there was no patrol.

Those days are gone and the Ride has become a beautiful exhibition of teamwork. Last Saturday, they put on two shows at the Exhibition grounds in front packed stands.

The shows were magnificent. The team work they displayed was almost unbelievable, especially considering the heat they performed in. The riders still wore their regular dress uniforms and spectators could easily see the sweat soaking through the red serge.

Both horses and riders executed their skills as any high level athletes would — almost flawlessly they trotted around the grounds to the surprising sounds of modern music. When one was expecting classical tunes, what they performed to was a bit of a surprise.

Both horses and riders were treated like those high performance athletes before and after the event. Prior to the show, they did a warm-up away from the amphitheater. Immediately following the act, riders walked the horses to the stable area, took off their red jackets and then continued to walk the animals and spray them with cool water as soon as saddles had been removed.

These were not just animals, they were fellow athletes. You could see the love that the riders had for their rides. Before their tours, horses and riders have spent months in which they would ride up to three hours a day learning the necessary routines and skills.

According to Priscllia Cote, officer in charge of this particular detachment, some of the riders had never ridden prior to being in the Mounties and they had to learn how once they had joined. In addition, many of the riders had to learn a different style of riding for the Ride.

“If they were used to western style riding, they had to learn English style because that is what we use,” she said.

Every province was represented by riders in the show.

In addition, there was an exhibition by a pair of trick riders who demonstrated some amazing skills with their mounts. Both of them have performed in movies and television.

sports@interior-news.com

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Don’t try this at home! Tom Best photo

Maryse Quesnel leads the group to salute the dignitaries who were present in the stands. Tom Best photo

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