The RCMP’s famed musical ride is coming to Princeton in 2018.
The visit will have a special meaning for local detachment commander Barry Kennedy, who was a fulltime member of the ride for four years.
“It’s the best job in the service,” he said. “You go to different parts of the world and you get to see and meet people from different walks of life.
“Even though you are a police officer they are not looking at you as a police officer. They are looking at you as the guy with the horse.”
The RCMP recently committed to visit Princeton August 11-12, and to perform two shows.
It’s 36 horses will be stabled at the Princeton Exhibition Grounds, where the performances will take place.
“I’m anticipating somewhere around 2,000 people will be at each show,” he said.
The event is being hosted by the Princeton Legion.
“There’s a lot of work to bring them here. There’s a lot of community involvement that is required and we will be setting up committees to help prepare for the show.”
Kennedy described the musical ride as “kind of the icon of the force. You see the horse and rider on all our vehicles. It’s one of the most recognized icons in the world.”
Kennedy was part of the ride between 1997 and 2001, performing about 200 shows each year.
“I went to Switzerland, and England and performed for the Queen. We went all across Canada and the United States.”
It takes a full year to train for the ride, and there is considerable competition to join its ranks.
“They take 24 applicants a year to be selected to come to a basic training course which is six weeks in Ottawa. They are six of the most painful weeks in your life if you have never ridden a horse because all you do is ride – every day. You find muscles you didn’t know about and every single one of them aches.”
Kennedy’s previous riding experience was limited to “dude ranch” style trail excursions.
Half of the original two-dozen riders are invited back for a one-year training program.
Kennedy has many enjoyable memories of his time with the musical ride.
“As far as the riding goes…there’s riders getting bucked off horses and horses deciding they are not going to do that part of the show, interesting stuff like that.”
But the best part was representing the service, he said.
“My favorite part of the show was always at the end when we could go meet the people. It was always good to see the young kids and their amazement at the size of these horses and how gentle they are.”
During the ride’s stay in Princeton the stables will be open for residents to visit the horses and ride members, said Kennedy.
“You can just come up and look at them and you can pet them and feed them.”
The ride also visited Golden BC when Kennedy was stationed there.
“I know a few people,” he laughed.
The August shows will also be fundraisers for community groups.
“The RCMP takes no profit out of this. All the money raised goes back to the community so the more the community is involved the more we can contribute back.”