Police Horses

Today I attended a winter seminar that the local veterinary office puts on every year to cover various horse topics. This year the seminar was on Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Protocol and Geriatric Horse Care, followed by a demonstration of how to desensitize your horse, given by the Police Mounted Patrol. 

The presentation on diseases and vaccines included videos of horses with Tetanus, West Nile, EPM, and Strangles. You could tell the presenter was really excited about getting these videos from the University and being able to show them to us. They did add a graphic image that could help if I ever saw these symptoms in my own horses, but for the most part, the attending horse owners moaned at the site of these suffering animals and prayed they would never see such a thing in real life.

The presentation on caring for geriatric horses got me thinking about aspects of my own horse care. Although my horses are still what I consider fairly young (9 and 13), it still made me think that maybe I should reevaluate the type of feed I’m giving them, my deworming program, and that I might want to consider some joint supplements for Murphy, my 13-year-old. I’m also going to look into getting some mesh leg wraps for the summer to try and keep the flies off their legs. The stomping to get the bugs off can cause unnecessary wear on their legs and feet. 

Murphy has a few issues with gnats getting in his ears. The resulting head shaking might explain his scrambled brain.

I tried to take photos of the mounted patrol demonstration but the overhead lighting in the riding arena caused glare and blurring. The photos below are the best I could do. 

Most the horses were a Percheron mix, but there was also a Paint, Quarter Horse, and a Friesan mix

During the Republican Convention, the horses in the mounted patrol were geared up with their own riot gear, including eye and face shields. The horse at the far right in the photo is wearing this shield. They also wear special shoes with metal pads to protect their feet from sharp, metal jacks that rioters may throw on the ground to try to stop the horses.

I wish I would have gotten a photo of the demonstration on how the mounted patrol teaches the police horses to push back a crowd. The demonstrator pushed the horse and hit it’s neck and chest with a nerf noodle. The horses are taught to listen to the rider and not the person on the ground. In general, people will move away from a 1000 pound animal. Of course, that’s probably not a desensitizing technique you want to teach your own horse or they’ll be pushing you back every time you approach with a halter.  

The police had those horses walking over pop cans and through hula hoops. Not just any hula hoops, but the ones that sound like they have beads or sand inside them. The hoops jumped up when the horses hit the edges of them, which I know would definitely have started my horse Luke pushing some crowds aside. 

All I really want is for Luke and Murphy not to freak out when the wind rustles the leaves. Or when a turkey crosses their path. Anyone have any turkey desensitizing techniques for horses? 

Written by Maery Rose