‘In search of Canada’: RCMP’s Musical Experience Steeped in Custom as Drive Turns 150

Maxwell Newhouse remembers the earth quivering beneath his ft when 32 riders carrying brilliant scarlet jackets, on high of their massive black horses, moved throughout a area in seamless patterns.

It was 25 years in the past and his first time watching an RCMP Musical Experience, a horsey ballet the place Mounties don the enduring purple serge, hoist their lances and pay tribute to Canada’s heritage.

“It’s simply the Canadian expertise. It was simply past something I’ve ever witnessed,” mentioned Newhouse, a painter from British Columbia.

“Once I noticed it, it cured me. I went residence and I couldn’t cease portray. I actually painted them for greater than 10 years.”

Because the RCMP celebrates its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, Newhouse mirrored on the century−lengthy custom that has formed him as an artist.

Among the a whole lot of depictions he has painted are featured in his ebook, “The RCMP Musical Experience,” showcasing the intricate formations that require the utmost management, timing and co−ordination.

Mounties say the experience is an emblem of custom, honour and delight the place officers can construct relationships with communities.

“As an artist, I’m at all times searching for Canada,” Newhouse mentioned. “How can we establish ourselves? I believe the Mounties are a part of that.”

RCMP members carry out dozens of rides in Canadian communities every year. Performances are to be held in seven provinces this 12 months.

The experience is made up of cops who’ve gone by a aggressive software course of and in depth coaching on the stables in Ottawa.

The horses additionally obtain complete coaching and construct relationships with their riders.

“Typically individuals will begin off with a horse they’re not all that keen on, however as rider and horse develop to know and belief one another, that bond grows,” mentioned Sgt. Maj. Invoice Stewart, the previous Driving Grasp, within the ebook “The Spirit of the Experience: The RCMP Musical Experience” by Monique Cooper and Joel Walker.

The primary public experience dates again to 1887 on the using college in Regina, about 13 years after the North−West Mounted Police started their march west on horseback from Dufferin, Man.

Mounted cavalry drills had been a part of officers’ routines, a convention that got here from former British cavalry members.

The using college burned down in 1887 and the subsequent publicly recorded experience occurred 20 years later in 1901. The custom continued till the First World Struggle.

It then returned in 1920, the identical 12 months the pressure’s identify was modified to RCMP, and has since turn into a staple.

The Musical Experience horses had been initially numerous colors, however in 1938, former Commissioner Stuart Wooden mandated Mounties solely use black ones.

Wooden had gone to the coronation of King George VI and appreciated how the Life Guards’ purple jackets contrasted towards their black horses. Mounties even have purple jackets, so he needed to copy that look.

Black horses, nonetheless, had been onerous to come back by. That’s why, in 1939, RCMP established a breeding program in Regina, choosing horses for his or her black coats, measurement and temperament.

In 1942, this system was moved to Fort Walsh, Sask., within the province’s southwest Cypress Hills area.

This system was moved in 1968 to its current location in Pakenham, Ont., 59 kilometres west of Ottawa.

Fort Walsh stays a nationwide historic web site.

“I consider Fort Walsh because the (Musical Experience) horses’ religious residence,” mentioned Frances Polson in “The Spirit of the Experience.”

“I bear in mind within the evenings, the horses would come over the hill, thundering hoofs and an excellent herd of transferring our bodies.”

Just a few well-known horses have come out of Fort Walsh, together with Burmese, a black magnificence that was gifted to the late Queen Elizabeth. Burmese was one of many her favorite horses as a result of it had a quiet temperament, numerous spirit and was reliable.

Nero, a horse additionally from Fort Walsh, was well-known for realizing all of the formations and educating different horses.

Nero was taxidermized and placed on show on the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina. Nevertheless, the horse’s black coat has over time turned brown as a result of mild harm and the results of taxidermy chemical compounds.

Horses that don’t make the minimize for the Musical Experience are auctioned off.

Whereas fundamental equestrian coaching ended on the Coaching Academy in Regina in 1966, almost all Mounties are eligible to use to be a part of the custom.

They’re required to have two years policing expertise, however they don’t must have earlier equestrian coaching.

The Musical Experience receives a whole lot of functions every year. A few dozen or so get to check out and solely a handful are chosen.

They spend limitless hours within the saddle, grooming horses, cleansing stalls and sweeping flooring. Members participate within the experience for 3 years after which return to their common policing duties.

As one Mountie put it in “The Spirit of the Experience,” being chosen for the experience is “virtually pretty much as good as successful the lottery.”

For Newhouse, it provides a way of delight.

“I do know (RCMP) get plenty of unhealthy press, however they’re paying consideration and I’ve religion,” he mentioned. “There’s a protracted historical past that they are often happy with.”

By Jeremy Simes

Originally posted 2023-05-20 17:49:34.