RCMP musical ride scheduled to perform in Gordon/Barrie Island

GORDON—The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride is scheduled to perform in the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island on June 18, 2013.

“We’ve already started planning for the big day,” stated Barbara Barfoot. As chair of the Gordon/Barrie Island culture and recreation committee, she said the committee is delighted to be hosting the RCMP Musical Ride this year. Although final confirmation is pending budget approval for the tour, planning between the RCMP and the committee is moving ahead.

Committee member Herb Strain presented the idea to the committee last year, noting the RCMP Musical Ride performs in Northern Ontario once every four years. The pre-tour planning is conducted one year prior to the actual tour, so Gordon/Barrie Island’s economic development officer Laura Barfoot got the ball rolling last June with an application to host the event.

“I’ve seen their show before, and they are touring Northern Ontario in 2013,” Mr. Strain told the Recorder.

“It is an excellent show and with the opportunity to host them in a small venue like ours it provides a good chance for people to not only see the show, but meet the riders and horses. It will be great.”

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. Once they complete the courses of instruction they not only become riders, but ambassadors of goodwill, the RCMP website explains. Working through a unique medium, the riders promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and the world. RCMP members only remain with the Musical Ride for three years, which ensures an annual rotation of approximately one-third of the riders.

Today, in keeping with tradition, the Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32-riders and horses, plus the member in charge. The Musical Ride consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music. Demanding utmost control, timing and coordination, these movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in two’s, four’s and eight’s at the trot and at the canter. Months of training, practice and many kilometres/miles around the riding school make horse and rider one. The horses must not only appear in the Musical Ride, but on Parliament Hill, in parades, special events and have the ability to travel and adapt to different environments, not to mention hours of petting and photo-taking that the horses must patiently endure.

The RCMP notes, “one of the more familiar Musical Ride formations is the “Dome,” once featured on the back of the Canadian fifty-dollar bill. The highlight of the Musical Ride is, without a doubt, the Charge, when the riders lower their red and white pennon-tipped lances and launch their mounts into a gallop. The conclusion of the performance is the March Past performed to the strains of the RCMP’s Regimental March where the Musical Ride traditionally salutes the guest of honour.

The initial inspection of the site for the event was carried out last November by Sergeant Malcolm Eskelson and the proposed stales and show site were both approved. The Musical Ride will be hosted at the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport, and Lyle and Heather Strain will stable the 32 horses in their hay barn. Many community members are helping to feed the steeds: Brent Best will supply the straw; Birgit Martin will provide the hay needed for the horses while they travel to the next venue, and Northland Agromart will order in the special horse feed required.

“Along with the construction of the horse stalls, there are still many tasks to be completed. We’ll need lots of volunteer help to make the event a success, but our committee is very eager, energetic and proud to bring this great even to our part of the world,” added Ms. Barfoot.

The RCMP Musical Ride tours throughout Canada, as well as international venues, performing at approximately 40 to 50 locations a year between the months of May and October. Thirty-six riders, 36 horses, a farrier, a technical production manager and three NCOs travel with the Musical Ride.

 Tom Sasvari