Hector, 24, was the embodiment of patience Thursday afternoon at Pitt Meadows Spirit Square.
The black gelding, with Const. Adrienne Young on board, stood stoically, save for the odd snort, head bob, and shuffle backwards, as dozens of students from nearby Pitt Meadows Elementary took turns stroking his nose.
Along with another horse and rider team – Const. Audrey Soucy and nine-year-old Bionic – the two visited Spirit Square to help promote the RCMP Musical Ride held that evening at Albion Fairgrounds.
They were part of the 32 rider-and-horse contingent that performed in a show supported locally by the Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows Agricultural Association, and North Fraser Theraputic Riding Association.
Thursday’s event benefited the NFTRA, a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with varying degrees of disabilities.
The ride is currently wrapping up its tour through B.C. that started July 13-14 in Prince George and finishes Sept. 6-7 in Hope.
Between May and October, the group tours through Canada, the US and other international venues, performing at roughly 40 to 50 venues.
Thirty-six riders, the same number of horses, a farrier, a technical production manager, and three non-commissioned officers travel with the ride on tour.
Riders are police officers who, after at least two years of active duty, volunteer for duty with the ride.
Most were non-riders prior to their equestrian training with the RCMP; however, once they complete the courses of instruction, they not only become riders but ambassadors of goodwill.
RCMP members only remain with the contingent for three years which ensures an annual rotation of about one third of the riders.
Currently on tour with the ride is 32-year-old Young.
Since she joined the RCMP in 2008, the ride has always been on Young’s wish list as an active Mountie.
Once she completed her two year service with the RCMP, Young started looking into how to become a ride member.
Two years ago, she got in touch with Supt. Marty Chesser, officer in charge of the ride, and applied for a position.
“Here I am today,” said Young, who joined the ride in 2013.
Young admitted that joining in the ride was a little intimidating, initially. She had to complete a five-week basic equestrian course before performing in front of an audience.
“I had no previous riding experience,” she said. “I showed up at the Musical Ride in Ottawa, got on a horse my first day there, and it was baby steps for the first few days. Then you get thrown into it. You give it everything you have for five weeks to prove you want to be there and you deserve to be there. If you’re lucky enough, you’re chosen to come back.”
Being a member opens up a whole different world for Young, literally. The native of Cookville N.S. has never seen the western provinces before, and this is her first time visiting B.C.
“This is my opportunity to visit [other parts of] Canada and parts of the US and other parts of the world,” she said. “It’s an amazing experience. You get to speak to the public every day, so it’s great.”
Once her time with the ride is finished, Young will return to her duties as a police officer and can be posted anywhere in Canada.
By joining the ride, Young is taking part in a time-honoured tradition with the RCMP.
The first officially recorded Musical Ride was performed in Regina under Inspector William George Matthews in 1887.
There are still limited tickets available for tonight’s 6:30 p.m. show at the Albion Fairgrounds, but they are standing room only at $10 each (cash only) at the gate.
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