Rain and shine at Musical Ride

The Musical Ride team executes their signature formation, once captured on Canada's $50 dollar bill

By Ben Ingram

The RCMP Musical Ride trotted into town last Tuesday to entertain Meadow Lakers and spread their message about the country’s historic police force.

“I think it’s important for Canada,” RCMP Supt. Marty Chesser, the officer in charge of the tour since 2009, said on June 14. “The RCMP is not just the street cops that you see, we’re diverse.”

Chesser was a rider in 1988 before moving to Ottawa to continue his career with the force. In 2009 he was recruited to take point on the tour.

The event will make between 80-85 stops on its 2011 schedule which ends Sept. 15. According to Chesser this year’s tour has been less busy than years past, but it still affords him the chance to enjoy his favourite aspect of the Musical Ride.

“Meeting the people, meeting the kids,” he said.

“We’ve got a beautiful country and the RCMP Musical Ride gets a chance to visit the small towns that aren’t on the tourist places to go,” Chesser said. “It’s pretty special.”

The RCMP recruits 35 officers from across the country, many of which have no riding experience to begin with. Preparation for the tour means 16 weeks of training at the Musical Ride Centre in Ottawa.

Through the RCMP program in Pakenham, Ont. the signature black horses are bred for colour, size and temperament. However, Meadow Lakers who watched the ride might have noticed white stars on some of the horses’ foreheads.

“We don’t really want to have the white, but you get what you get. I think one of our stallions has a star so he’s been passing that on,” Chesser said. “We’ve got a stallion that has a couple white socks too, so we’ll see what he brings.”

As the performance wrapped up, Chesser led the riders on a final salute to the community, received by Meadow Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Korman.

Before the riders returned the horses to the arena for food and rest, they were introduced to the crowd in groups based on their home province.

As the lone rider from Saskatchewan, Cst. Rielly Knock of Saskatoon received extra cheers and applause.

“It’s pretty neat to be the one that everybody cheers for at the end, the one getting the ovation,” she smiled. “Just the way it worked out, I was the only one from here.”

Knock has been a member of the RCMP for four years, working with the North Battleford detachment before joining the Musical Ride two years ago. This year’s tour will be her last, she said.

“I plan on coming back to Saskatchewan, I don’t know where yet,” she said.

Like many of the riders, Knock had never ridden a horse before being recruited in the selection process, one that receives over 800 applications. After a year of training, she was ready to tour the country.

“You’re doing it three hours a day, five days a week. You learn pretty quickly,” Knock said.

After a sunny morning show for the kids, heavy rains in the city turned the stampede grounds into mud. Not a problem, Knock said.

“It’s a little bit of fun, you can see everybody laughing and joking. I was covered in mud, completely covered in mud,” she said with a laugh. “Doing a rain show is a bit different.”

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