Mounted Unit officers become certified riding instructors

Toronto’s Mounted Unit takes riding skills to new levels with certification program Richmond Hill, ON – Toronto Police Service’s Mounted Unit entered a new era in its 130-year history on Monday when four of its officers became nationally certified riding instructors, an initiative that will translate into more effective crowd control.

“There is no requirement under law, or rules or regulations from the Ontario government that we have to have training in certain areas, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embrace it,” says Training Sgt. James Patterson. “This is definitely going to make everyone here a better rider.”

Sergeant Kris McCarthy and Constables Harold Williamson, Richard Cooper and Joel Houston received their Instructor of Beginner certification after a rigorous day-long evaluation period on Sept. 10. The program, administered by the Ontario Equestrian Federation, is focused on those who wish to instruct children and adults learning to ride, establishing foundational riding skills with an eye on safety.

“The Ontario Equestrian Federation is very pleased that the individuals who are responsible for our public safety value the importance of being trained and certified as a riding instructor in this national program,” says Gillian Ross Erasmi, education coordinator with the Ontario Equestrian Federation. “Members of this unit have been working for several years with a certified coach who has not only helped them develop their riding skills but more recently their skill as riding teachers. It is exciting to see them reach their goals.”

While the Toronto Mounted Unit is respected across North America and frequently trains officers from other areas, having certified instructors demonstrates the unit’s commitment to riding excellence.

“Our main function is crowd control and it can get tough at times,” says Patterson, who likens effective crowd control to a three-legged stool. One leg is having a horse that has been desensitized to distractions, one leg is to work cohesively as a group and the final leg is equitation – the ability to ride a horse well. “When you are going in and somebody is trying to grab you and pull you out of the saddle, you had better know how to sit in and how to ride. Or all of sudden there is a bicycle in front of you; you had better know how to jump. This is basic application of a skill. If you are weak in any one of those three areas, your stool is going to fall over and you aren’t going to do that crowd control properly.”

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