Strathcona’s at NAMUCA

Sergeant Paul “The Crippler” Kruhlak

On 23-24 April 2016, MCpl Cam Davidson and I travelled to New York City to attend the 9th Annual North American Mounted Unit Commanders Association (NAMUCA) conference. This association gathers yearly to offer mounted commanders ways to improve their units by observing how other groups operate and provide an opportunity to network with similar units that may be facing the same issues.  Attending this year’s conference was made possible by good friend and retired member of the Strathcona’s and the Mounted Troop, Sgt Andy Cook from the York Regional Police department in Ontario as well as SMT’s greatest patron, Mr. Ron Southern. Before arriving at JFK airport I could not believe the size of this city and now I know why they have 36,000 officers to police this huge metropolis. Even with the police escort it took almost 3 hours to move through traffic during a normal New York rush hour.

0700h pick up at the hotel and we quickly moved to the NYPD Academy by full police escort. After an opening ceremony and anthem, Chief of Department James O’Neill warmly welcomed us to the NYPD Mounted Unit. The day continued with power point presentation by Remount commander Sgt Kevin Brady on their remount school of horsemanship. He explained the training program for new troopers and the selection and training of NYPD horses. I noticed a lot of similarities of the basic fundamentals of horsemanship between our two units. DVM Dennis Farrell has been the Mounted Unit’s veterinarian for the past 30 years. He spoke on equine medical files, emergency situations, horse selection requirements, and the importance of a good work relationship between veterinarians, ferries, and the Unit. Other members of the Mounted Unit spoke on such topics as the retirement program for NYPD horses, fabricating leather bridles and shoeing requirements of police horses that work the pavement in the city daily. The day was full of excellent information regarding the horse and rider. We ended the day by the NYPD Mounted Unit hosting a reception just outside Time Square.

Even at 0700h on a Sunday traffic was tremendous, so good thing we had a police escort to the Bronx. We arrived at the NYPD remount section where we were treated to the newest batch of Mounted police perform a Musical ride, their way of showing accomplishment and achievement in their horsemanship skills to the NYPD commissioner. A demonstration of large animal rescue displayed the necessary SOPs and equipment required to safely extract horses from an overturned trailer, sink holes, or wells. This was extremely valuable knowledge to help prepare our units in case of an incident. We toured one of the oldest horse barns in the middle of the city. It is hard to imagine that 15 horses are stabled on the second floor with walking ramps to the ground level. 365 days a year mounted patrols are conducted throughout the city, being that it is a valuable tool utilized for managing crowds, high visibility crime deterrents, and serve as the New York City ambassadors for visitors near and far. We had to hand it to the NYPD to end the conference with a sightseeing tour by police boat of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. We were both overwhelmed by the hospitality of the NYPD, along with the abundance of valuable information from all other mounted units that attended this conference.