RCMP Musical ride reins in more than 2,000 people

Jennifer Chornely

Special to the Advance

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The RCMP Musical Ride was performed at sunset inside Fort George Friday. The display of intricate figures and cavalry drills is choreographed to a variety of music genres, including familiar jingles such as Hockey Night in Canada and Mission Impossible. JENNIFER CHORNLEY/SPECIAL TO THE ADVANCE

The RCMP Musical Ride was performed at sunset inside Fort George Friday. The display of intricate figures and cavalry drills is choreographed to a variety of music genres, including familiar jingles such as Hockey Night in Canada and Mission Impossible. JENNIFER CHORNLEY/SPECIAL TO THE ADVANCE

The world-renowned RCMP Musical Ride galloped into the Fort George Historical site, wowing an all-ages audience with a sunset performance of intricate figures and cavalry drills choreographed to a variety of music genres.

The sea of 32 red-coated Mounties with their familiar broad-brimmed hats were in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Friday, Aug 31 for a special event in commemoration of the area’s major historic milestone – the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

“It’s important for people to continue visiting our hidden gems,” said Jarred Picher, superintendent of historic sites for Parks Canada in an introductory address to the crowd. “Visiting various parks throughout Canada provides a sense of connection between the people and history that has built the foundation of what Canada is today.”

Picher expressed gratitude to the Friends of Fort George’s executive director Erika Alexander and members for its “phenomenal support” and organization of the event.

Local dignitaries Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor David Eke, Regional Chair Gary Burroughs and Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor were also on hand to extend their support and appreciation for the night’s event.

Craitor was described by event emcees Scott Finlay and Elizabeth LeBlanc, both of Fort George Parks Canada, as a “tireless supporter” of the 1812 Bicentennial celebrations. This is especially true, as earlier this year, he attended a session of the provincial legislature dressed an authentic 1812 Officer’s Red Coat Uniform in support of a passed co-sponsored private member’s bill for Sir Issac Brock Day, Oct. 13.

Also, Craitor experienced first hand the unique fund-raising opportunity the RCMP musical ride provides the community. In 1996, when he was a councillor with the city of Niagara Falls, he was instrumental in organizing bringing in the event as a fund-raiser for the United Way.

For the Friends of Fort George, this event will help sustain the organizations stewardship programs and commemoration events for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Eke called the event a “double-header. A great way to pay tribute to the 200 years of peace with our neighbours to the south, meanwhile connecting with a well-known Canadian symbol of protection that has ties dating back to the Empire Loyalists.”

Also, Eke was happy with the number of people who attended, especially since it was a good mixture of local residents and visitors from out of town.

The RCMP Musical ride event displayed to the audience its intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music, which demands the utmost control, timing and co-ordination. These movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in two’s, four’s and eight’s at the trot and at the canter.

The Clover Leaf, Bridal Arch, Charge, Thread-the-Needle and the Dome, one of the most recognizable formations, just to name a few, were included in the performance. A variety of familiar musical jingles complimented the display including the Hockey Night in Canada and Mission Impossible themes.

After the performance, views had an opportunity to meet the RCMP Officers and their horses.

The Musical Ride was developed from a desire by early members of the North-West Mounted Police to display their riding ability and entertain both themselves and the local community. Considering the original Mounted Police members had a British military background, it was inevitable that the series of figures they performed were traditional cavalry drill movements. These movements formed the basis of the Musical Ride.

Although legend has it that the first Musical Ride was performed as early as 1876, the first officially recorded Musical Ride was performed in Regina under Inspector William George Matthews in 1887. Over the years the popularity of the Musical Ride has grown – today it is one of the most popular Canadian symbols around the world.

Members of the Musical Ride are, first and foremost, police officers who, after at least two years of active police work, volunteer for duty with the Musical Ride. Most members are non-riders prior to their equestrian training with the RCMP; however, once they complete the courses of instruction, they not only become riders but ambassadors of goodwill. Working through a unique medium, they promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and the world.

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