2012 Musical Ride

Members of the Musical Ride are first and foremost police officers who, after a minimum of two years of active police work, volunteer for duty with the Musical Ride.

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every year approximately 800 officers from across Canada make this application, however only 45 are chosen to come to Ottawa for the five-week Basic Equitation Course.

RCMP members remain with the Musical Ride for three years which ensures an annual rotation of approximately one third of the riders.

The Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of thirty-two riders and horses, plus the member in charge. The Musical Ride consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music. Demanding utmost control, timing, and coordination, these movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in twos, fours, and eights at the trot and at the canter.

One of the more familiar Musical Ride formations is the “Dome,” once featured on the back of the Canadian fifty-dollar bill. The highlight of the Musical Ride is, without a doubt, the CHARGE when lances, with their red and white pennons, are lowered and the riders and their mounts launch into the gallop.

The conclusion of the performance is the March Past performed to the strains of the RCMP’s Regimental March where the Musical Ride traditionally salutes the guest of honour.

The RCMP Musical Ride tours throughout Canada, as well as international venues, performing at approximately forty locations annually during a 100-day tour between the months of May and October.

The Horses of the Musical Ride

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1873, the horses of the NWMP had to be rugged and tough since they were the primary mode of transportation for officers. Today an RCMP horse must be black, elegant, and athletic with a good nature and enough heart and stamina to carry it through approximately one hundred performances of the Musical Ride.

The RCMP has bred and raised its own horses since 1939 and today the national police force is known to produce some of the finest horses in the country.

The RCMP horse breeding program began at Depot Division, Regina, Saskatchewan, and was subsequently moved to Fort Walsh in 1942, the site of a NWMP fort built in 1875 in the beautiful Cypress Hills of south western Saskatchewan. Fort Walsh was home of the breeding program until 1968 when the operation was moved to Pakenham, Ontario about 30 miles west of Ottawa.

The RCMP Breeding Farm in Pakenham is built on one hundred and forty hectares of lush Ottawa Valley land where the Remounts spend the first three years of their life, growing, developing, and maturing before becoming Musical Ride horses and moving to the home of the Musical Ride, the Rockcliffe Park Equestrian Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2012 Musical Ride Tour
The Musical Ride travels to every province on a four-year rotational basis. The 2012 tour includes Ontario and Manitoba. The 2013 tour includes Northern Ontario and British Columbia; Quebec and Alberta in 2014.

RCMP Musical Ride Tour Schedule

Location                     Show Date                  Host Organization

Paisley, ON                 June 20                        Paisley Agricultural Society

Clinton, ON                June 21                        Bayfield Agricultural Society

Toronto, ON               June 24                        Queen’s Plate

Ottawa, ON                June 26-30                   Sunset Ceremonies

Calgary, AB                July 6                           Calgary Stampede 100th Anniversary

Brandon, MB              July 18                         North American Belgian Championship VII

Morris, MB                 July 21                         Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition

Deloraine, MB            July 25                         Deloraine Community Development Corp

The Pas, MB               July 27                         The Pas Rotary Club

Wasagaming, MB       July 29                         Riding Mountain National Park

McCreary, MB            July 31                         McCreary Agricultural Society

Lundar, MB                August 2                     Lundar Agricultural Society

Winnipeg, MB            August 3                     Assiniboia Downs

Teulon, MB                 August 4                     Interlake Riding Club Inc

Beausejour, MB          August 5                     Beausejour Centennial Committee

West St Paul, MB       August 6                     RM of West St. Paul

Carman, MB               August 8                     Dufferin Agricultural Society Inc

Town of Blue Mountains, ON            August 25       Cedar Run

Orangeville, ON          August 28                   Orangeville Agricultural Society

Rockton, ON              August 30                   Rockton Agricultural Society

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON       August 31       The Friends of Fort George

Windsor, ON              September 2                Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Assoc

Shedden, ON              September 6                Rosy Rhubarb Festival

London, ON               September 7                London-Elgin-Middlesex Crime Stoppers

Caledonia, ON            September 12              St.Patricks Catholic School

Welland, ON               September 14              Niagara Regional Exhibition

Uxbridge, ON             September 19              Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association

Lindsay, ON               September 21              Lindsay Agricultural Society

Picton, ON                  September 25              Prince Edward Yacht Club

Topsfield, MA            September 29              Topsfield Fair

Please note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride

Part 1: RCMP Musical Ride

Worth Pondering…
Like water flowing over the rocks in a river, our lives touch all who are near us. Let your life leave good marks on those you touch.

Read More

RCMP Musical Ride

The image of the red-coated Mountie in broad-brimmed Stetson hat is associated with Canada round the world. But there is more to the Mounties than just a romantic image.

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the beginning of its history, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has served Canada and its people by establishing law and order in the frontier reaches of this vast nation.

Representing a colorful tradition and ceremony through the horse and the scarlet uniform, the RCMP created a spectacle known around the world as the Musical Ride.

The Origin

The Musical Ride originated from the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) as they made the Great March West across Canada in 1874. Although the original NWMP were scattered in small groups over tens of thousands of miles of unsettled prairies, they routinely practiced both mounted and foot drills.

In this time, Sergeant Major Robert Belcher and other members who directed the mounted training had been members of the British Cavalry regiments and had experience in performing drill displays.

Only after the men of the NWMP had formed their own band, did the riding displays take the form of the Musical Ride as we know it today. The performance of the drill movements accompanied by music helped the NWMP to entertain themselves during the evening or while off duty.

The Early Years

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first recorded display of the NWMP riding performance, under the direction of Sergeant Major Belcher—and with no public in attendance—took place at Fort Macleod, Alberta in 1876. Training for and performing the Musical Ride provided relief for the officers from the daily drill periods and routine duties.

The first time the NWMP performance was named the Musical Ride was at the Regina barracks in 1887. A total of five performances were given that year. There were no public displays for many years after this because regular police duties and the creation of new posts took precedence.

The NWMP riding performance became a form of public entertainment in 1904. The troop trained under the direction of Inspector Frank Church and performed in Winnipeg, Brandon, Qu’appelle, and Regina.

Some of the Musical Ride movements are based on cavalry drills. These drills began to take shape during the eighteenth century when Frederick The Great of Prussia (1712-1786) revolutionized cavalry tactics and trained his cavalry to a standard which became the envy and ideal of other European nations.

The basis of the Ride’s movements stem from the ability to move a mounted cavalry regiment with some form of organization, e.g. single file, half sections, and sections at all three paces. Since 1887, Musical Ride Instructors have developed and elaborated on these basic movements.

The Musical Ride became a permanent entity of the RCMP in 1961. Up to 1961 it had been impossible to plan performances far in advance, as there had always been doubts about whether or not the Ride would continue.

Prior to 1961 and beginning in 1920, there were two Rides that performed in various parts of Canada and the US. One Ride was based in Rockcliffe, Ontario and the other in Regina, Saskatchewan, occasionally with other Rides trained for local performances.

RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RCMP Musical Ride performance at Edmonton, Alberta (Amberlea Meadows Equestrian Centre), July 23, 2010 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over the years, the popularity of the Musical Ride has grown and it has become a world renowned attraction.

The Ride varies from year to year as every new Instructor slightly alters the Ride movements and formations.

Please note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride

Part 2: 2012 Musical Ride

Worth Pondering…

There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe.

It has symmetry, elegance, and graced—

those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures.

You can find it the turning of the seasons,

in the way sand trails along a ridge…

—Frank Herbert, Dune

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