The RCMP Musical Ride is one of Canada’s most popular symbols around the world. Canadians from coast to coast have an opportunity to experience part of our heritage and national identity. The first officially recorded Musical Ride was in Regina in 1887. For Marty Chesser, the Officer-in-Charge, his job is a dream comes true.
Chesser certainly knows about the team concept from all his years coaching hockey. “I’ve coached a university team, Junior A, ‘Ontario under 17’ and more recently my kids Pee Wee team,” he comments. I joined the RCMP in 1981 and was fortunate to perform in the Musical Ride in 1988. He took the reins as Officer-in-Charge in 2009.
“There have been as many as 800 officers who are interested in becoming one of the 35 riders chosen. Officers must have 2 years of active police duty to apply and most riders are non-equestrian before entering the six months of training. Once selected, they are assigned a horse. The show is performed by 32 riders which leaves 3 swing riders. The ages of riders range from 22-54, but typically are in their mid 20’s. This year we had more female than male riders,” Chesser states.
The RCMP has bred and raised their own horses since 1939. They are Hanoverian horses which are bred just outside of Ottawa with an emphasis on color, temperament and size.
Temperament certainly is important with all the traveling required. The caravan includes four 18 wheelers, a 45 passenger bus and 2-3 vans.
The Musical Ride is performed at 40-50 locations every year between May and October. Each year, two provinces are selected for performances. This year’s rotation included Alberta and Quebec, along with BC because of the Olympics. Saskatchewan and the Maritimes have been chosen for 2011. Some years also include international visits. In 1988, 7 European countries were visited in 11 weeks. This year was a performance at Topsfield, Mass., just outside of Boston.
“The reaction in Topsfield was outstanding. People were very impressed. It’s a unique opportunity for them to share in our heritage and for us to represent our country,” Chesser shares.” The Musical Ride is very impressive, consisting of moves and cavalry drills choreographed to music. Everyone wants to get a picture of the RCMP on horseback.”