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A line of RCMP officers in red serge ride black horses while each holding red and white lance pennon.

The musical ride returns

The RCMP musical ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada between May and October. This year, it's performing in Saskatchewan, the Maritimes, Quebec and Southern Ontario. Credit: RCMP


After two years in the stables due to the pandemic, the RCMP musical ride will be back on the road this season bringing its performance to Saskatchewan, the Maritimes, Southern Ontario, and Quebec.

Despite the break, officers didn't stop practising their mounted performance. "On the positive side, it allowed our riders to connect more with the horses because there was more training," says Sgt. Jeremy Dawson, who's worked with the musical ride for 17 years. "But everyone is excited to get out there and make connections with the communities. That's one reason why they sign up for this unit."

Members with the musical ride also spent the hiatus exercising the horses and keeping them mentally occupied, and training young horses to someday join the ride. Some officers completed relief duties up North working at RCMP detachments throughout Nunavut.

"I did two northern relief postings in Nunavut and I never thought I'd get to go up there" says Cst. Amrit Gill, who started with the ride in 2019.

On the road once again

This season's tour starts in Carp, Ont., just outside of Ottawa, the last weekend of May. Following that, they'll tour Saskatchewan in June before making stops in the Maritimes, Ontario, and Quebec during the summer.

Usually, half of the musical ride's 32 RCMP officers have previous tour experience but, this year, only six members have toured before.

Cst. Jennifer Dowden, who toured with the ride from 2010 to 2013 and returned to the unit in 2018, says there might be some wrinkles at first, but the process will get faster and easier. "There's only so many things you can prepare people for and once we're outside of our home base, each environment is unique," says Dowden. "But we're a strong team that works together well and it'll become a well-oiled machine."

At each stop, the officers must unload four 22-metre long tractor trailers — three filled with a dozen horses each and the fourth storing all the tack, tools, and equipment — before packing up and hitting the road again once the performances are finished.

The return of the musical ride is also a win for non-profit and charitable organizations who host the mounted unit in their community. The event hosts may sell tickets for the performance to recover costs and to support local initiatives such as new playground equipment, arena upgrades, or other local causes. "I'm looking forward to the meet and greets and answering questions about the horses, the ride and the RCMP," says Gill.

An early stop

Before the tour begins, a small group of ride members, including Dawson, Dowden and Gill, travelled to Windsor Castle to participate in the celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The officers flew in a few days before the celebrations to practise their routine and get acquainted with their horses, which include former musical ride horses that the RCMP gifted to the Queen.

"We wanted to be at the highest standard and with that it brings a lot of work and dedication and commitment," says Dawson. Dawson has travelled to the United Kingdom with the ride twice before, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and Her Majesty's 90th birthday in 2016.

Dowden and Gill both say it's a privilege to have the chance to represent Canada, the RCMP, and the musical ride at Windsor Castle, and highlight the organization's connection to the Crown. "We were in red serge, on former RCMP horses, escorting members of the Royal Family. It's an honour," says Dowden, who also performed for Her Majesty 10 years ago when the complete Musical Ride flew to the United Kingdom to perform for her Diamond Jubilee.

Visit the 2022 musical ride tour schedule.

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