Tribune Staff Writer
The RCMP Musical Ride delighted audience and dignitaries alike when they performed at the Stampede Grounds last Thursday evening.
The performance was a stunning example of horsemanship with 32 riders and horses performing detailed and intricate movements.
RCMP riders wore their bright red serge which stood out against the beautiful and elegant dark horses.
Many, if not most, of the riders have no experience with horses before being chosen to go into training for the ride. All the riders are RCMP members who volunteer for duty with the musical ride.
That duty can last as long as three years. During the first year riders are trained and evaluated on their horsemanship skills, and a certain number are asked to come back to take intermediate horsemanship and ride as part of the touring RCMP Musical Ride.
After their three years with the ride, the RCMP members return to active duty with the RCMP.
For Jeremy Tipper, a second year rider with the Musical Ride, touring has been an amazing experience.
“We’ve got to do some great things around Canada,” he said, adding that many of the RCMP members who join try to carry on living with horses after they finish their duty on the ride.
“It’s a lifestyle with most of us.”
He was paired with his horse, Tess, halfway through the training period.
He said he was interested in joining because he had grown up on a farm, although he had never rode, and that his grandfather had been a chuck wagon racer.
“In a way I am living on his legacy,” he said.
It’s not always easy being on the road or working with animals, however.
“Everything is challenging because it is a different site for the horses everywhere you go,” Tipper said.
In addition to performances, RCMP riders are responsible for feeding and watering the horses, grooming them and mucking out stalls. It’s a 24 hour job for the men and women of the ride.
The horses, specially bred and trained by the RCMP since 1939 are selected for their calm temperament, stamina and dark colour.
Members of the public got to visit with the horses on Wednesday evening, throughout the day Thursday and after the evening performance.
The 2013 Musical Ride has been on tour since May, starting with performances in Northern Ontario, and now working their way through British Columbia. Their next performance will take place in Armstrong on July 24.
Proceeds from the 50/50 draw and other money made from the performance will be donated from Williams Lake Community Policing to provide extra lighting in Boitanio Park.