When Sgt. Marc Godue, the NCO i/c of the Client Services Section with the Musical Ride, got a phone call from Shania Twain's stage manager, at first he thought it was a hoax.
Twain, an avid rider and fan of the Musical Ride, wanted to work with the RCMP at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., as part of the Calgary Stampede. It was her first concert on Canadian soil in a decade.
"I didn't promise him a thing and told him I'd get back to him," says Godue.
He sent it up the chain of command and received the thumbs up at each step. And after several months of co-ordination, a plan was in place.
Dressed in replica red serge, Twain entered on Piper, an RCMP horse, for her back-to-back sold out shows, flanked by Mounties on horseback and on foot.
"We were right next to the crowd and I wanted to make sure that we kept things as safe as possible," says Godue. "We practised beforehand and did our due diligence so we wouldn't just cut the horses loose."
Godue also chose experienced riders for the event, instructors with the Ride, who were already on tour at the Stampede.
"We go out with our horses, and I'm leading the way," says Cpl. Jeremy Dawson. "Shania shows up in the uniform smiling and says, 'This is way too crazy.' And I was like, 'This is definitely one of the craziest things I've done.' We both started to laugh and I said, 'I'll get you through.' "
When they entered and the crowd realized Twain was one of the Mounties, Dawson says they went wild. "There was no way we could prepare our horses for that, but all three of our horses walked through," says Dawson.
In total, it took 40 nerve-wracking seconds to go around the stage.
"We did it. We got it," says Dawson. "But then we remembered that we had to do it again the next night. Luckily, it was even better than the first."
In exchange for the favour, Twain volunteered to participate in this RCMP public service announcement on family violence.
Reprinted with permission from the Pony Express (No. 5, 2014).