MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A busy day for 31 police officers and their horses at Ladd Peebles Stadium. The Mounted Mobile Mardi Gras School held its 31st class Saturday afternoon.
In the seven-day course, police officers from different agencies across the United States come together and learn to make sure their horse is prepared to handle intense situations if one were to happen during a parade.
Retired Mobile Police Officer Michael Schaffer has been teaching the course for 25 years; he described the course as intense.
“This is not a beginner course,” said Instructor Michael Schaffer. “You know, if you’ve been riding a horse for two or three weeks, this is not the place for you. These are seasoned riders, and we’re teaching them how to handle their horses, amongst obstacles, loud noises, like just seeing helicopters, anything that they may run into during Mardi Gras.”
Exercises involving a helicopter flying in the air, to a loud gunshot-like explosive sound are to help the horses react to loud noises. During the exercises, Schaffer reiterated the golden rule.
“A horse is gonna react,” said Schaffer. “It’s going to react, there’s nothing you can do. I don’t care how strong your horse is; he’s going to react to things like that. It’s how you handle it when it happens. Now I want you to re-react to control that horse so that we can control the situation.”
Officers who participate in the intense course said it’s worth it. Many of them tell us this wasn’t their first time participating in it.
“You cannot repeat this experience anywhere,” said Officer Sandra Silba from Columbus, OH. “And I’ve been on 10 years. And this is my fourth trip here; brought a different horse every time. And every time you get something new out of it, which you put you put into it, you get out of it. It’s been a great experience, great class.”
“We’re very thankful that we had this opportunity, as our department has an SEC University in its jurisdiction,” said Corporal David Misenhelter from Oxford, Mississippi Police. “So we have a lot of crowds and a lot of practicality to come to a train to a training like this. So we get to use the training and all the things that we learn here to go and apply back for the City of Oxford.”
With Fat Tuesday around the corner, the officers in the course said they feel more prepared and equipped to handle a breaking situation during a parade. Some are able to take what they learned back to their home state.
“Everything that we’ve seen in training we do see out on the street,” said Corporal Misenhelter And it is it’s a confidence exercise. Everything that we do here is about building confidence of the horse, building the confidence of the rider and giving them the tools they need to go out on the street and do their duty and public safety.”
Officers from Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi participated in the course, most of them already hitting the parade routes.