The Omaha Police Mounted Patrol includes eight horses and the unit shares all the same duties as a cruiser officer. This includes regular patrol, traffic stops, citizen contacts, traffic control, crowd control, search and rescue, parking enforcement, parades and formal events.
The horses give police a new “perspective” in crowd control by offering added height and visibility! The horses allow their riders to observe a wider area and allow people in the wider area to see the officers, which helps deter crime and helps people find officers when needed.
A horse’s training depends on where a horse has come from and what they have experienced. There is no specific breed required, instead the unit focuses on traits like age, overall health, and intelligence when looking for recruits. Horses are also paired to the rider that’s the best fit so their personalities and demeanor match.
In general horses need to be between the ages of 6-10 when they join the unit. Younger horses are prone to obedience issues and adolescent energy. Those two characteristics together can be a liability with 1200 pounds working so close to our community and officers. The average horse can be trained to ride the street within one year, but training is a continuous focus.
Certain special equipment is necessary. The OPD Mounted Police Unit rides “English,” a formal military style of riding. Horses are equipped with English saddle, saddle pads, irons, bridal, bit and reins. In addition each horse is fitted with special horse shoes that allow for traction on multiple surfaces. During specific assignments horse may be equipped in riot gear with their own masks and shin guards. The unit also has specialty training aids like a 72′ ball that the horses push around and play with to build confidence when working and pushing through crowds.
The horses also have their own unique needs for nutrition and health. On average, a horse’s basic needs cost $1,800 a year per horse. Your donation helps us care for the Mounted Patrol Unit!
Fun Fact: Horses have the comparable intellect of a 4-year-old child and play all the time. Play and reward is the form of training that best molds the horses into confident officers, willing and able to serve alongside their human partners.