Mounted Patrol - Our Horses
The Houston Police Department Mounted Patrol has a unique combination of donated and purchased
horses. At present, there are thirty-eight (38) horses in our herd. These horses represent many different
breeds, some of which are: Percheron; Belgium; Quarter Horse; Hanoverian; Tennessee Walker; Dutch
Warmblood; Thoroughbred; and Spotted Saddle Horse. There are currently thirty-two (32) police mounts
assigned to patrol duty. Each officer is issued one mount and is responsible for the care and wellbeing of
the horse. The extra horses are currently not assigned or are in training. There are a few requirements that a
horse must pass before the initial 90 day evaluation period.
- Gelding or mare is accepted into the unit
- Minimum height of 15.2 hands
- Between the ages of two (2) years and fifteen (15) years
- Must be of gentle temperament
- Must pass a vet check
After the acceptance, the horse will go through a ninety (90) day evaluation and training phase. During the initial training/evaluation phase each horse will be assessed at the Mounted Facility and put through such obstacles as tarps, fireworks, and smoke. Also, the horse will be farther assessed while working alone and in groups with other mounted horses. Harassment and crowd control situations will be introduced at this point. Next, the horse and trainer will move outside the Mounted Facility to the major parks and Houston Intercontinental Airport. After successful completion of these initial training phases the horse will then be exposed to the central business district. This downtown geographical area is very dynamic for training as there is major construction projects ongoing, continuous vehicular and pedestrian traffic, water obstacles, curbs, and ever changing terrain.
Once a horse is accepted into the Mounted unit it will be assigned to an officer or supervisor. Typically, we attempt to match a mount and rider based on the rider’s skill level. Should an officer’s assigned horse be out of service, then one of our extra horses will be temporarily assigned to the rider.
Should a horse, upon a negative evaluation, not be accepted into the Mounted unit then it shall be returned to the donor. If a horse is to be retired the original owner is given first opportunity to have the horse returned to its original home. If the original owner chooses not to accept the horse or is unavailable, then a suitable home is located for the retired horse. We have a long list of horse lovers who are interested in accepting one of our retired police mounts.
After acceptance to the mounted unit the horse and rider will continue equine training. As a rule, the entire mounted unit has training once a month. During this training there is primarily equitation and ground training, formation, crowd control, harassment, and loud noise (fireworks, sirens, etc.) exercises. Also, all mounted officers and mounts must go through, and pass, a four (4) week Natural Horsemanship instructional class using Pat Parilli's principles.
In 2003 the Houston Police Department Mounted Patrol was the first unit to initiate a bare foot program for all law enforcement agencies in the United States and the program has proven to be a great success. We no longer utilize a farrier and over this period of time we have had very little hoof problems. Currently, there are four (4) mounted officers who have been trained in barefoot hoof trimming. These officers believe so much in this program that much of their learning of barefoot and trimming techniques was paid for out of their own pocket. Initially, when a horse's hooves are trimmed we will utilize hoof boots until the sensitivity has dissipated. Over a period of time the hoof will strengthen and no longer require the boots. Our hoof boot of choice is the EasyCare, Inc., Old Mac G2.
Should you know of a horse that you believe would make a good addition to the Mounted Patrol unit, please contact Senior Police Officer Greg Sokoloski or Police Officer Meredith Villarrealat 832-394-0399 for further information. If you would like to make a donation toward the purchase of police mount please go to www.houstonpolicefoundation.org and follow the instructions regarding a donation. As always, designate
the monetary donation to the “Mounted Patrol”.
Houston Police Department Mounted Patrol Facility
5005 Little York Rd. Houston,Tx. 77016-2547
Main Telephone Number: 832-394-0399
Primary Fax Number: 832-394-0398