Two officers raised in Red Deer who are performing in the RCMP Musical Ride at the Calgary Stampede are enjoying their time in the saddle.
“It’s extremely iconic. You can’t feel any prouder than being a Mountie on horseback at the end of a show during the Canadian anthem,” RCMP Const. Brent Dobinson, 33, said after Tuesday’s performance.
Riders are officers from detachments across Canada. They are police who have worked on all kinds of cases who now get to deal with the public on a “positive note” as part of the equestrian team known around the world, said Dobinson who is in his third year with the Musical Ride.
Before joining the musical ride, Dobinson was stationed in Faust.
“You never imagine when you join the RCMP that you’d be performing in a horse show for the 100th anniversary for the Calgary Stampede so it’s been a phenomenal experience,” said RCMP Const. Derek Quilley, 28, who is in his first year touring with the musical ride. “It’s great to come home and perform in front of friends and family.”
Even though 20-minute performances happen at 1 p.m. in the present searing Alberta heat.
“I’ll take a little bit of heat. It’s only a couple of hours. At least it’s not snowing or something like that,” Quilley said with a laugh.
Quilley worked for the RCMP in Surrey, B.C., before he trained for the ride.
People at the Stampede can visit the officers and thoroughbreds at the stable before and after their daily performance.
Both tourists and local Albertans are stopping in to say hello.
“They adore the horses. The horses are the real stars. We’re just kind of there,” joked Dobinson. And in Calgary, they know about horses.
“It’s kind of nice to do shows where people are relatively knowledgeable about equitation. They understand that what we’re doing isn’t natural for the horses and it does take a lot of work and a lot of practice.”
As a venue, the Calgary Stampede is challenging with fireworks and other horses and riders involved in the opening ceremonies, he said.
RCMP Supt. Marty Chesser, officer in charge of the musical ride, said both visitors and horses enjoy the time they spend together.
“Right now as I speak, we’re bathing a couple horses and we probably have a couple hundred people in the stables. Horses are walking up and down and people get a chance to touch them and see them. Our horses are walking through like pets,” Chesser said.
Dobinson said RCMP officers also take the opportunity to find out more about the musical ride and how to join.
Earlier this season the RCMP Musical Ride was at the Diamond Jubilee for the Queen who calls them “her beloved Mounties,” he said.
“Seeing the Queen at your show, it’s kind of a surreal experience,” Dobinson said.
But his favourite performance was in Red Deer in 2010.
“It was on my mom’s 60th birthday so it was really special.”
The 2012 RCMP Musical Ride tour ends in October in Boston.
Each year the ride helps raise $1 million for community charities and non-profits.