We saddle up with the Mounted Police
We recently visited Senior Constable Kelly Zorn at the NSW Police Mounted Unit in Redfern to learn more about the life of a Mounted Police Officer. NSW Police hold the distinction of having the oldest Mounted Unit in the world.
How long have you been in the Force and how long have you been riding with the Mounted Police?
I joined the NSW Police Force 12 years ago and have been a part of the Mounted Police for the past year.
You obviously have a strong passion for horses?
Yes I started riding when I was 14 and have owned a number of horses over the years. I can remember when I was a child I loved horses so much that I would keep myself awake all night with excitement if I knew I was going riding the next day. I spent many hours telling my parents to “buy me a pony” but unfortunately it never happened. I had a deprived childhood!
What do you like most about the Mounted Police?
The obvious answer to that is working with the horses and making a positive impact with community policing. It’s very satisfying work whether operational or ceremonial. What job in the world at times can boast an office view from places such as Centennial Park and Bondi Beach, all while getting paid for it!
What sort of duties do you handle in the Mounted Police?
We do a lot of training for big events and riots. We often ride in a troop and conduct drills. This is good discipline for horse and rider and helps both work as a team. We also do regular street patrols on the horses and deal with any criminal behaviour we come across. Another big part of our job involves being participants in parades. As the Mounted Police have a great history of being involved in the forefront of ceremonies, we continue this tradition and travel all around the state to be involved in various parades for the community. The professionalism and history of the Unit was recently acknowledged by receiving a unique invitation to perform at last year’s Queen’s Jubilee Pageant in England.
We understand that the NSW Police Mounted Unit is the oldest Mounted Unit in the world. What’s it like having so much history behind you?
The Unit is steeped in some pretty solid tradition so you do have to be professional at all times to live up to the reputation. All members of the Unit are very proud of the fact that we are the oldest operational Mounted Police group in the world. We are also respectful of the many great riders that have served the Unit over the years establishing our proud tradition and reputation. I hope to do them proud while I am part of this unit (I’ll try not to fall off too many times!).
What’s it like having a partner that can’t talk back to you?
Awesome but please don’t tell my boyfriend that! Actually, they do ‘talk’ to you perhaps not with words but certainly with their behaviour and mannerisms. If they are particularly cranky they can dump you on the ground, letting you know who is in charge!
How are horses allocated to each rider?
You do get allocated one dedicated horse which you ride the majority of time. This helps develop the bond of trust between rider and horse. On occasions however and depending on operational requirements, we may ride a variety of horses. It is therefore important to be able to adapt your riding style to each particular horse.
What are the general maintenance requirements for the horses?
We do look after our own horse if we are on shift, brushing and saddling and washing them as the grooming staff have enough to do cleaning out the stables and feeding the horses. I check my horse every time I’m on shift to make sure he is not injured and in good health. And of course riding drills are very important as it keeps the horses fit and in the best condition to perform the required duties.
The Mounted Police take part in lots of special events, what is the biggest event in the year for you?
The biggest event of the year is New Years Eve with all riders rostered on for patrolling the City. As you can imagine it’s quite an exciting night with a lot of atmosphere. We certainly are extra vigilant on occasions like this as it can get pretty intense for the horses with the large crowd and fireworks. However the horses cope well and stay relatively calm which is testament to the time invested in training. More recently the Unit was on patrol at the victory celebrations for the Socceroos in the Sydney CBD following their win against Iraq to secure a berth in next year’s Worlds Cup in Brazil.
How does the public respond to you and your horse while on duty?
I think we are the most photographed unit in the Police! Luckily the public really warm to the horses and it is very nice to be able to have friendly dealings with the community as Police.
On a lighter note do you get told to stop horsing around often?
Ha ha, yes that and “look it’s Black Caviar!” Seriously if I could have a dollar for every time I heard that comment my Police Bank account would be overflowing!
Where do horses go when they finish their service with the Mounted Police?
They go to horse paradise in the form of a big retirement paddock. Here they can spend the rest of their days picking grass and telling the other horses war stories about the time when they were a Mountie and how many arrests they made and the riots they were involved in! When they reach this age they have earned their bragging rights.
The NSW Mounted Police Open Day is on 8 September 2013 at the Police Stables, Redfern. Entry is free and further details can be found at www.police.nsw.gov.au.
Stay up to date with the latest news from the Mounted Unit by liking their facebook page www.facebook.com/MountedPoliceNSWPF