About our mounted patrols and the horses
The Mounted Unit currently has an authorized strength of four constables, and one civilian equine trainer/expert. There are five horses in the Mounted Unit. In early 2016, the Mounted Unit initiated a transformational period to enhance it’s operational policing capacity within the City of Calgary.
The Mounted Unit operates out of the Service’s modern stables facility situated near the Calgary International Airport, which opened in 2016. This facility allows the Mounted Unit to quickly deploy anywhere in Calgary from within the city limits.
The Mounted Unit is committed to supporting the eight district offices in Calgary with each of their crime management strategies. The Mounted Unit conducts routine patrols in a wide variety of different environments which include urban residential, urban commercial and urban industrial environments. The unit can also provide access to several difficult rural environments in the city, including secluded parks, pathways, the banks of the river, and other locations that present difficult terrain that would be inaccessible to officers in a vehicle or on a mountain bike.
The Mounted Unit is a great tool to assist in searches for missing persons and evidence, and to manage crowds at large public gatherings such as festivals and sporting events.
As well, the Mounted Unit remains committed to its public relations and ceremonial role within the community and attends several major events within the community each year.
If you see the Mounted Unit on patrol or at an event, please feel free to approach the members and the horses to say hi. For a safety reasons, always make sure you have the attention of the officer and approach from the front where the rider and horse can see you. Both the members and the horses enjoy interacting with the public!
Police Service Horses (PSH) have a very difficult job. They are continuously exposed to demanding environments while on patrol. This can include situations commonly encountered in dense urban areas such as heavy traffic, sirens, other animals, large crowds of people, etc. The Mounted Unit is not breed or colour specific, and PSHsare chosen carefully after being assessed on the following criteria:
- Suitable mind and temperament to manage the stressful exposures of police work;
- Excellent physical condition and a physical ability to perform the rigours of patrol work as determined by a comprehensive veterinary exam;
- No younger than 5 years old, with a previous foundation of basic equitation training to build upon;
- At least 16 hands high, or approximately 5'3" to the base of the neck;
- Gelding; and
- Successfully complete a 4-6 week trial evaluation period.
Prior to being accepted as a police service horse, a six-week trial period is completed to test the horse's potential. If the horse successfully completes the six weeks, they are purchased and the formal training starts.
Since horses have their own unique personalities, the training is tailored to their past experience and the ability to learn and accept new things. During this training period the horse is assigned to a member of the Mounted Unit based on the knowledge and experience of both the member and the horse.
A bond develops between the horse and rider and on occasion, these partnerships can last for years. However due to personal changes and retirement of horses or members, partnerships can change. It is common for senior experienced horses to be partnered with the newest members, allowing the member to learn their job while relying on the calm demeanour of the experienced horse.
The earliest reference to The Calgary Police Service (CPS) Mounted Unit shows that it was started in 1910 and ran until approximately 1939, the start of Second World War. The modern CPS Mounted Unit was re-formed in 1979 after a 40 year hiatus with the mandate to enforce federal, provincial and municipal laws, attend crowd gatherings, assist with traffic control, and area searches and patrol the remote areas of the city.
In 2016, the Mounted Unit instituted a new naming protocol for PSHs that are welcomed to the Unit. PSHs are now carefully named after important events in Canadian Military history so as to honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadian servicemen and servicewomen who have defended Canada with great courage and honour throughout our history.