Mounted Patrol Unit
Published May 24th, 2012
Before these horses clear out crowds they must be trained to "win" a situation. The mounted patrol enforces the notion that when its closing time you don't have to go home but you cant stay here.
Its two o'clock in the morning, a club just let out and these officers are trying to clear the crowd.
You can see the mounted patrol unit trying, even walking on sidewalks to get people to move.
But before these horses are used to disperse the crowd, they, blue the biggest at more than 17-hundred pounds, Merlin, Rusty, and Zeus get their shoes fitted.
"I'm hot fitting, burning the shoes to the foot, to see where it sits on the foot" Dave said.
According to Dave, it doesn't hurt the horse, this actually helps prevent them from getting sick.
Once the horses get their shoes fitted, its time to put on a bell boot.And start training the horse to "win" in a situation in a crowd. In this case its with a so-called noodle.
"We would use a noodle for like a banner," Corporal Tracy Fundenburg, Gainesville Police Department said.
Corporal Tracy Fundenburg has been with the horse unit on and off for about 5 years. Her co-rider officer Tom Lardner just recently joined.
Horses have what is called monocular vision. That means their eyes see things separately unlike humans who have binocular vision. So anything done on one side of the horse must be done on the other side to train effectively.
"Its like brand new holy cow when did that get there?" Fundenburg said.
But eventually after a couple tries
"Good boy, its about friendship now" Fundenburg said.
Merlin gets comfortable with the noodle.
Now to train Merlin and Zeus to handle unusual spaces they come here to practice more.
"Nah ah for example between two cars" Fundenburg said.
Zeus will even go through barrels which trains him to help move a crowd.
And once training is over with, they do one last portion of training before hitting the streets.
While downtown they patrol the area, and in one case found this homeless man sleeping in the plaza after closing which is illegal.
"Figure we comeback and make sure he was out of the park by 11:30" Officer Tom Lardner said.
But it isn't always about work.
"Have a good night, be safe" said a local woman.
These horses interacted with and were rubbed by these admirers who by the way have to ask first.
But eventually they go to work clearing the crowd.
After work is done these gentle giants love to eat and be petted, and roam around like normal horses.
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