Friday, March 5, 2010

Show Fashion & Police ...but not the Show Fashion Police!

Thank you to those who’ve contacted me to inquire where the next post is…it was in my computer…and in my head…but that doesn’t translate well to those who are waiting, does it?

I actually wrote the next post in the Coconut Chronicles a few weeks ago but it’s just not sitting with me right. I’ve tried to rework it a bit but I’m just not feeling it. Thankfully I had the distraction of another Horse Adventure this weekend so I have something to blog about.

Police Mounted Patrol

On Saturday Corey & I attended the Seattle Mounted Police Demonstration and Barn Tour hosted by the King Conservation District.

We were fortunate enough to gain ourselves two spaces on the afternoon list that included a demonstration by the Seattle Mounted Police. We arrived before Noon and helped ourselves to some snacks & tea before heading to the barn and arena where we met an officer and his calm Appendix gelding. The officer was busy answering questions of all sorts so I was able to learn that he had ridden most of his life, had competed in Dressage and Jumping and had also participated in exercises with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at what he referred to as their premiere facility in Canada, riding their horses.

He explained the process by which they choose a horse and it starts much the same as any of the rest of us…. looking at ads on the Internet. They’ll go out and preview a few horses and when they think one will work, they take it on a 60-day trail. If the horse doesn’t work out, it’s returned. If he does, then they pay the owner. Even if the horse doesn’t make the cut, the owner just got 60 days training out of the deal.

Typically they look for calm, sturdy, BIG horses…the team is made up of mostly Quarter Horses, 16 to 17 hands high…all geldings. “Girls…” they said, “…are trouble!” so it’s an all male team on the four-legged half. The riding officers can be men or women, of course.

The mounted team demonstrated a few drills and maneuvers before moving on to the aggressive crowd control type of movements. They also showed desensitizing lessons like riding over a blue tarp and playing with a giant ball the height of a horse’s back. At one point they had a group of volunteers throwing tennis balls at the horses and riders. Some of the officers caught the balls and returned fire. Next up were signs and the volunteers marched straight up to the horses waving the signs and even places the signs on the horses without even a slight reaction.

Eventually they pulled out the flares and smoke machine to show how unflappable these horses were but the smoke bomb was the most spectacular display of how much these horses will take in terms of distractions. The smoke bomb of the day happened to be red so when they lit it off the whole arena filled up with the red smoke. It wasn't horrible smelling but it was a bit annoying.

Someone left the tack room door open and so the smoke flowed through there on into the offices, setting off the smoke detectors and alerting the local fire department. Corey and I joked that it’s not a party till the Cops or the Fire Department show up so this must have a really good one…we got both!

Each horse is assigned to a particular officer and gets worked every day of that officer’s scheduled workweek. There is a barn manager who takes care of the day-to-day feeding/cleaning but the officers groom and work their own horses. Not all officers have extensive riding backgrounds. The current Sergeant is Grant Ballingham & he indicated that he only began riding when he got assigned to that unit.They also told us that the horses are officers just like Police K-9s and are protected as such. Harming a Police Horse will get you in a heap of trouble, but because of their size and presence they said people generally get out of their way but they do have to intervene every once in awhile.

After the demonstration we got a tour of the facility headed by Alayne Blickle and two representatives from King Conservation District. They showed us the manure management and talked in great detail about the footing used for the paddock area. They apparently dug down three feet to lay the proper depth of sand, drain pipes, geo-fabric, 5/8ths minus gravel and then a top layer of 78ths that was a mistake they’ve decided to keep. If they had to do it over, they said they would have had the final layer be 5/8th clear. This set up allows for proper drainage to occur and by appearances has eliminated the mud problem. Mud was a problem a few years ago but no longer. The paddocks looked great. The cost, they estimated, was about $1,300 per horse to do it right.

The barn/arena was one to envy by all means. The footing on the arena is a mix of recycled rubber and sand. There are breezeways on both sides and stalls for all of the horses on the outside walls. All of the horses are turned out each day and have about 1,000 sq feet each in their paddocks. Each paddock has it’s own shelter but the horses get turned in at night.

The tour was very interesting and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in horses, horse keeping or police work. Corey also took the opportunity to try out his new camera. I’d say he got in some great shots!

I couldn't resist this photo opportunity!

It’s Shopping & Show Time!!

Today Maeve and I went out to Olson’s Tack shop in Bellevue. What a beautiful store. I intended to buy new half chaps and walked in with a budget but immediately fell for a really lovely pair of Ariat leather ones…at twice my budget! Maeve came up with a set of Ariat All Purpose half chaps in black off the clearance table and the Mediums worked! (for 1/3rd the price) So I spent the rest of my budget (+) at the clearance rack on a cute Kerrit’s vest and glove set in Black w/brown & white Zebra stripe!! I don’t know that I’ll wear it in the show but they’re very cute and I can’t wait to go trail riding or something fun in style…maybe NEXT show?!

I do have a pretty new English Coat and show shirt I picked up a few weeks ago at Hickey Tack & Feed (formally Pro Horse Country) when they were having an insane sale of 75% off of every thing that couldn’t be eaten or wasn't on consignment. So LOTS of bargains lately. I’m not sure if any of it will make me a better rider but I will match better! And if you know me at all, you know I have a thing for matching!

The same day I was at Hickey T & F, Kelli, Stephanie and I had been out to the Tacoma Unit during a show to see a tack sale where I picked up some cute new heart conches for my western saddle and a Mane Tamer in a Tropical Print (of course!) for Coconut.

Friends and I are getting ready for the next Donida Schooling Show on Saturday for the English events. Today was bath day and Coconut got to use her new Mane Tamer in hopes of keeping that pretty white mane…exactly that! We’re hauling over tomorrow afternoon and picking up a very handsome black Percheron named Jack who’s owned by my friend, Ruth. He’ll be joining Coconut and Sugar who are having an overnight in the big fancy barns over there! Those three will be going home after the classes on Saturday but I’m going back the next day for the western events to cheer on Kim and Mercedes! It should be a great time and hopefully come Sunday I’ll have some fun things to report about this weekend’s show!!


  1. Sounds like all kinds of fun!! I just saw your post about Pro Horse on SAFE's forum...was wishin' I saw it earlier! I'm in need of a girth for my new/used English saddle...might still have to stop by there over the weekend! Hope you have a great time at Donida! Should be a beautiful weekend for showing!! :)

  2. Oh...Maeve and I BOTH have a really awesome girth that we got there. I bought mine several months ago and she got her's at the big sale becaause IO like mine so's webbed w/fleece lining and elastic buckles. Her daughter and I both have black Wintec Saddles and these girths are fabulous!!

  3. I went to this last year. I was just so amazed at those horses!