Representing a colorful tradition and ceremony through the horse and the scarlet uniform since the late 1800s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police created and have proudly displayed a magnificent spectacle known around the world as the Musical Ride. Citizens and families of all ages will be treated to this breathtaking display of pomp and pageantry when it rides into Ponoka to perform on Saturday and Sunday-July 19 and 20, 2014 for four shows at the spacious new Calnash Ag Event Centre on Highway 2A.
A long and proud history
The RCMP Musical ride was developed from a desire by early members of the Northwest Mounted Police to display their riding ability and entertain both themselves and local communities. Although legend has it that the first musical ride was staged as early as 1876, the first officially recorded event was performed in Regina, Saskatchewan under the direction of Inspector William George Matthews in 1887. The spectacular event, which was put on public display for the first time in 1901, initially consisted of 20 men on their well trained horses. Over the years, the ride quickly became extremely popular, and for over 110 years, has provided thousands of Canadians and international audiences with the unique opportunity of experiencing part of our heritage and national identity.
Since the early settlement of our great nation, the Maple Leaf, the breathtaking wilderness, and the red coated ‘Mountie” with the broad brimmed Stetson hat would become international identifiers of our ‘true north strong and free’ that will always be the magnificent and instinctive image of our Canada here and around the world. But there would be much more to the Mounties than just a romantic image, and the stage would be set in 1873 for a vital role that would intimately connect the Mounted Police and its members with the development of Canada as a great nation. As this vast country grew in population and diversity, and its communities became more established, the Mounted Police adapted, ensuring the ongoing peace and security of each and every citizen.
Members of the Musical Ride are first and foremost officers who, after at least two years of active police work, volunteer for duty as national representatives in this colorful event of horse and rider in spectacular unison. Most members are non-riders prior to their equestrian training with the RCMP, but once they complete months of vigorous courses of instruction, they not only become riders, but ambassadors of goodwill. Today, in keeping with tradition, the Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 men and women and their horses, plus the member in charge. The RCMP Musical Ride consists of the precise execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed for music, but as well as competing in the main show, the horses and riders are also featured on Parliament Hill, and in countless parades and special events from May until October. The 36 riders, their horses, a farrier, a technical production manager, and three NCOs must have the ability to travel and adapt to different environments, not to mention the hours of petting and photo-taking sessions that they will patiently and happily endure after each and every one of their 40 to 50 performances a year.
The RCMP Musical Ride is now based in Rockcliffe, Ontario, with the breeding program conducted at the Remount Detachment near Pakenham, Ontario. The Musical Ride horses stand 16 to 17 hands high, weigh between 1150 and 1400 pounds, and are 3/4 to 7/8 registered thoroughbreds. Young horses, called remounts, begin their training at three years of age, and when they turn six they will start special training as a member of the Musical Ride.
Four exciting performances in Ponoka
At the Ponoka show on July 19 and 20, there will be two performances each day, 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at the Calnash Ag Event Centre. As well as the famous RCMP Musical Ride, the gala event for each member of the family will feature an appearance of the delightful new German Sheppard puppies from the RCMP Dog Training Centre at Innisfail along with an exciting display by a talented trick riding group called the Young Gunz.
After each performance, fans will be treated to a tour of the barns and a meet and greet and photo session with the horses and riders. While the RCMP Musical Ride troop is in town, they will also present a special performance for the residents up at the Rimoka Lodge and Sunrise Village. The Ponoka Lions Club is the major sponsor of this fabulous event, with kind assistance from local sponsors EnCana, Almita Piling, Bruce Prediger, and McFeeds. All proceeds will go towards the purchase of new LED light standards and other improvements at the Lions’ Centennial Park.
Tickets for the RCMP Musical Ride coming to Ponoka this summer will be on sale at the Ponoka Trade Fair April 25 and 26 at the Complex, at Bruce’s Tru Value Hardware, Scizzor Wizard, Co-op Oils, the Ponoka Visitor Information Centre, from Lions’ Club members, or can be purchased by calling 403-783-7410 or 403-783-8336. Please don’t miss this great opportunity to see the proud and colorful display of our history and heritage in one of the greatest shows in the world.