Last week we were in Canada visiting friends and family and one of our stops was in Ottawa, Ontario. Upon our arrival, I noticed directly across from our hotel was a very large gray building. I asked my husband if he knew what the building in question was and he thought it was a government building and I thought it was a hospital. We were actually both wrong. It was actually the RCMP building! As soon as we checked in, I asked the front desk clerk if the barn was located there and she replied that the barn and museum were actually 10 minutes away. The next thing you knew, we were back in the truck heading to their barn.
I was quite surprised that I wanted to go only because I have not set foot in a barn let alone touched or seen a horse since Cappy's passing. I think because the RCMP horses have always been on my bucket list and that they were black made it someone easier for me.
I have to say there is nothing better for the soul than the smell of the barn and hearing a horse walk. I think unless your a horse person, one really doesn't understand the calming presence and peace you get from these familiar smells and sounds. The RCMP moto is "Maintiens Le Droit" which translated in english means "Defending The Law". The RCMP is the federal and national police force of Canada. The RCMP was founded in 1920 and was originally called North-West Mounted Police. Women were not regular members until 1974.
You can visit the museum, barn and gift shop from 9am to 4pm (the last guided tour is at 3:30pm). The tour is free and takes about 30 minutes. If you come at 8am, you can actually see them practice which is exactly what we did. We came back the next day to see them and it was so worth it! It was very evident from the tour and watching the practice, that this is a very well oiled machine. Nothing in the barn is out of place, everything is squeaky clean, extremely organized and every horse was thoroughly inspected before they went to the arena. They practiced for about an 1 hour and 45 minutes. If my memory is correctly (I did not take notes during the tour), they have about 90 stalls, 80 horses, 50+ riders, 2 ferriers, 2 vets and 4-6 groomers (talk about a mouth full) and a mountie can only ride for 5 years. They also have custom saddles made from Stubben as they require a longer flaps on their saddles.
They have their own breeding program which is located in Pakenham, Ontario. All of their horses are Hanoverian and all are black (certain white markings are allowed to a certain extent) and are between 16 - 17.2 hands. They no longer brand their horses but they are tattooed on the upper lip.
The stall name plate shown below shows the horse's name which in this case is Hero. It also shows both the sire and dam's name, the year Hero was born which was "10" or 2010, and his personal identification number which in this case is 1247. Horses can also be adopted after their retirement.
Needless to say I could go on and on about this amazing organization but what I really hope is that if you ever have a chance to go to Ottawa, please go and visit the RCMP. This is definitely family friendly, it's one of the great Canadian institution that is worthy of seeing and it's FREE! For additional information, here is their link http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/ride-centre.