You haven’t seen precision riding until you’ve seen the 32 riders of Canada’s RCMP Musical Ride.
You haven’t seen beautiful Hannoverian/thoroughbred crosses until you’ve seen the 36 horses that travel with the RCMP Musical Ride.
And you really can’t call yourself Canadian until you’ve seen … ok, you get the idea.
If you’ve seen the Musical Ride as a kid, see it again. The approximately 30 minute show is the best, most beautiful, uplifting demonstration of precision riding you’ll see in a while.
Thirty-two riders and horses, carrying traditional Calvary lances with flags, create pinwheels, circles and amazing cloverleaf formations – first single-file then building to four abreast. Mesmerizing. A crowd-pleaser is the ‘charge’ ending the show with a dramatic military maneuver.
If you’re old enough to remember the old $50 bill, you’ll recognize the final ‘dome’ formation that closes the show.
The Mountie is Canada’s most recognized symbol worldwide. From May to October each year, actual members of the RCMP, after a minimum of two years of service and six months of equestrian training, tour one section of Canada. This year, it’s in Manitoba and Southern Ontario, so many shows are within easy driving distance of my home.
Guess who’s going to several shows?
Yup, I’d see them all if I could because each is different. In each community, The Ride teams up with local charities or non-profits to raise funds – and the hosts provide ‘opening act’ material.
The actual Musical Ride is only 30-minutes long, so at each performance local groups provide an hour of entertainment which can include anything arena appropriate such as dog agility demonstrations and local riding club shows. Each show is then unique; varied environments create different viewing experiences and host organization volunteers provide commentary.
In London, Ontario, indoors at the Western Fair Grounds, August 13 and 14, 2016, the RCMP Musical Ride teamed up with Bethany’s Hope Foundation and local riding club Silver Stars showcased young riders’ vaulting skills and older riders’ precision riding routines. The indoor arena, elevated bleachers and professional commentator is a different experience that other places, like the West Niagara Agricultural Fair grounds near Grimsby, Ontario four nights later. Here, viewers brought their own lawn chairs and got an outdoor, close up but level eye-view of the horse’s gentle but powerful gaits.
A meet-and-greet with RCMP members follows each show and these horses are remarkably patient with the stream of spectators who line up along the arena rail to be rubbed on the nose. One even leaned his head over the shoulder of a woman taking a selfie. Hannoverian photo-bomb. Awesome.
Fun Facts about the RCMP Musical Ride
(If you ever write the Canadian Citizenship test, these might come in handy):
- There are 32 horse and riders in each show (area size varies)
- The group travels with 36 horses and one Ferrier
- All riders are active members of the RCMP federal police force with at least two years active service
- Officers can participate in the Musical Ride for a maximum of three years
- Horses are Hanoverians mixed with Thoroughbreds – only Thoroughbreds were used until 1989
- All Musical Ride horses are black and 16-17 hands high
- The first public performance of the Canadian RCMP Musical Ride was in 1901
For a complete list of where the RCMP Musical Ride will be during the months of August, September and October in 2016 check out the schedule. Highlights include the Norfolk County Fair in Simcoe, Ontario on August 31 and Ancaster County Fair in Hamilton, Ontario on September 24.
American readers near Topsfield, Massachusetts, can see The Ride there October 1 to 7, 2016.
Look for the cross-country tour next year as The RCMP Musical Ride helps celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary.
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