U.S. Park Police Seeking Horses

The United States Park Police is seeking donations for horses to join the agency's Mounted Unit. The unit patrols national parks and carries out regular patrols and special event assignments in Washington, D.C.

Mounted Unit Commander Lt. Stacey Collins said that the animals would join the unit's existing herd of 45 horses. Though most are used as patrol horses, some are used as school horses in the unit's riding academy for officers, she said. The horses are also used in educational programs and take part in competitions with other mounted police units in the United States and Canada. Because the size of the herd fluctuates, the Unit is always in need of new recruits, Collins said.

"We're always looking for additional horses because some are retired and because the (ranks of) the unit is always increasing," Collins said.

Collins said that prospective patrol horses must be sound, stand at least 15.3 hands and be trained to walk, trot, and canter under saddle. The unit accepts only mares and geldings of all breeds and colors. The age of a prospective patrol horse depends upon its training level and temperament, Collins said.

"We prefer that the horses are between 8 and 10 years old, but we've taken them as young and four and five, and as old as in their late teens," Collins said. "It all depends upon their skill level and willingness to learn."

After passing a preliminary officer-witnessed skill screening, horses chosen to join the unit undergo a 90-day trial evaluation, Collins said.

"We ride them on trails, on city streets, and bring them to downtown Washington, D.C.," Collins said. "Those that are chosen (after the trial) go into our training program."

Horses that join the unit remain with the herd until retirement. Retired horses are placed with former owners, or in agency approved new homes, Collins said.

Anyone interested in donating a horse to the U. S. Park Police Mounted Unit should call 202/426-6853 or 202/905-1682. or email Officer Mariea Clowers at Mariea_Clowers@nps.gov for more information. Owners whose horses are chosen for the unit are eligible for an income tax deduction for the animal's appraised value. Owners are responsible for obtaining appraisals, Collins said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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