The Musical Ride's experiences at Queen's 90th Birthday Celebrations
While having tea with the Queen is often said in jest, this year, some lucky members of the Musical Ride got to do just that.
The famed troop was invited to perform at the Queen's birthday celebrations in May, which coincided with the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The equestrian-themed event featured more than 900 horses and 1,500 performers from around the world, including the RCMP Musical Ride, which performed from May 12 to May 15, 2016.
Thirty-nine members packed up their kit and 35 horses, taking the show to Windsor, England, to mark the 90th birthday celebrations for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
For the special birthday, Commissioner Bob Paulson presented the Queen with Sir John, an eight-year-old gelding. This is the sixth horse that Canada has given to the Queen since 1969.
Members of the Musical Ride share their favorite memories
Cst. Kyle Kifferling, third year member
The day started off at the stables in Ottawa at 0700 hours like any other day. But that day, there was a buzz in the air: the first load of 18 horses was about to depart for Windsor, England, for her Majesty's 90th birthday.
Myself and four other members were fortunate enough to accompany the horses on their journey to England. This meant jumping into a crate with the horses, driving to Toronto, then being loaded onto the plane there.
We landed in the Netherlands at midnight, stayed overnight, then finished the journey to England the next day. We finally arrived in Windsor at 0700 hours.
We all got a second wind at the sight of the scenic Windsor Castle and the rest of the members waiting to greet us. I wouldn't trade anything for the memories that were made on this journey to England.
Cst. Sebastian Houle, first year member
Our tour started with a bang — performing for the Queen of England. It was an experience and a challenge to leave my young family behind, but I created bonds with my new family on the Ride.
When we arrived in England, we were welcomed in style. We had the incredible privilege of practicing in the Queen's private arena inside the castle. We rode our horses as the song Amazing Grace played — a very moving and magical moment.
The entire troop worked very hard to prepare for the show, which definitely paid off. I can assure you that this will be an exceptional year!
Cst. Tracy Aube, second year member
I am originally from Cardiff, Wales, in the U.K, so imagine my excitement when I heard that the Queen had requested the Musical Ride to perform at the Royal Windsor Horse Show for her 90th birthday.
As we arrived on the grounds of Windsor Castle, I could feel my colleagues' excitement. We were ready to make Canada proud. For me, it meant more, because I had come back to the country where I had spent my first 20 years.
One of my favourite moments was cheering on the Pony Club Mounted Games. It was amazing to watch as young, fearless riders galloped as fast as they could, then jumped off and back on their ponies while still galloping. The crowd loved it and so did I, especially when Cardiff, Wales, came in first!
Cst. Allison Barker, fourth year member
My childhood dream was to be a proud member of the Musical Ride. Not only has my wish come true, but I have toured with the Musical Ride for four years, double the usual commitment.
Nothing makes me prouder as a Canadian to do that, but the experience of a lifetime has been going to England to perform for Her Majesty's 90th birthday.
Shaking hands with the Queen and personally wishing her a happy birthday is something I will never forget. The other most exciting moment was the presentation of her birthday gift, Sir John. Previously known as Fergus, Sir John was the horse I rode in 2014, his debut on the Ride. Five-year-old me is beaming, as I have the best job in the country!
Insp. Patrick Egan, officer in charge (OIC), Musical Ride
After two weeks of rehearsals and shows in Windsor, England, I am finally able to take a deep breath at my desk at the Canadian Police College where our stables are located. What an intense and highly rewarding experience it was!
I will forever hold dear the memory of our final performance before her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. During the charge, I watched 32 horses and riders thunder down field as their voices faded into the night. At the same time, Andrea Bocelli sang a beautiful aria as a crowd of 7,000 gave a rousing applause for what they had just witnessed.
I then cantered to the end of the field to line up for the march past. This final manoeuvre was done at the trot and included an eyes right and my final salute. It was my proudest moment in 35 years of service.
Supt. Leslie Cook, OIC, Musical Ride Branch
Last year, the Queen, who is Commissioner in Chief of the RCMP and a horse enthusiast, extended an invitation to the Musical Ride to perform at her 90th birthday celebrations.
We arrived in Windsor two weeks ahead to prepare for the big day, staying on-site. With 1,500 performers from around the world, it felt like we were part of an Olympic team.
I had the honour of meeting the Queen at a tea she hosted — she is very genuine and warm. One day, she drove up to where the Ride was staying, kerchief on her head, and walked around to chat with the members and others. What a memorable day.
The Musical Ride performed in all four shows during the week and they were phenomenal. Watching them perform on the final night for the Queen while Andrea Bocelli sang live moved me to tears. It was truly a proud and wonderful time for the Musical Ride.
A gift for Canada
The Queen presents the RCMP with a rocking horse named "Burmese"
The rocking horse that was gifted to Canada was made by Stevenson Brothers. It is a replica of the first horse donated to her Majesty the Queen by the Government of Canada (the RCMP).
On April 28, 1969, the RCMP presented Queen Elizabeth II with the gift of Burmese, an RCMP service horse that had served on the Musical Ride. The Queen rode Burmese at the Trooping of Colour for 18 years. This beautiful horse was one of Her Majesty's favourites. The Queen has not ridden a horse at the Trooping the Colour since Burmese passed away in 1990.
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