BCMP Basic Training Course
Photos and Story by Marilyn E. Short
been quite a while since the Bexar County Mounted Patrol held a basic training
course in Central Texas. Approximately 24 riders coming from New Braunfels,
Luling, San Marcos, Guadalupe County, Ft. Sam Houston Army Post, Bandera,
and Converse took advantage of the (free) training offered May 24, 25, 31,
and June 1 at Valley View Equestrian Center in Converse. Although these courses
are originally designed for mounted patrol officers, BCMP normally opens them
to the general public as well. The horse and rider team really benefit from
the vast knowledge and experience of the BCMP instructors.
“I’ve been waiting for 5 years to attend one of the BCMP training courses,” said Jennifer Kuhn of New Braunfels, Texas, “and I can’t wait for the next one!”
Much like any sport involving horses, one of the main objectives in training mounted patrol horses is building a bond between the horse and rider. On the 3rd day of training, the fun begins! Each horse and rider team goes through the BCMP’s obstacle course to test their progress from the previous 2.5 days of training.
Lt. Bill White, director of the BCMP always changes the obstacles, whether it’s for a mounted patrol re-certification or the basic course. “We want the horses to trust their rider…no matter what the obstacle,” said White.
After attending a few of the BCMP’s courses, I can vouch for the changes in the courses over the years. Courses can have any of the following: a water hazard, jump, teeter tauter bridge, smoldering bales of hay, flares, smoke grenades, sirens, gun fire, flashing lights, balloons, tarps, balls, and lots of noisy, horse-eater obstacles.
bjective is to build the horse’s confidence, learning
to understand that no matter what the rider asks of him, the task isn’t
going to result in pain. Not only is the obstacle course fun to watch, you
can see each horse and rider team enjoy the challenge of each new task. To
make it a little more challenging, the instructors don’t allow the riders
to watch the other participants go through the course, they see it for the
first time as they ride into the arena. To ensure the safety of the horse
and riders when they see the strange obstacles, BCMP members Gasper Sfuentes,
Tom Akeroyd, Bill Stanley, Dennis Douglas and Bill White where inside the
arena making sure the riders didn’t get into trouble, while talking
the riders through the obstacles.
The members of the BCMP who conduct the training courses are constantly on the look out for new training material. In addition to always trying out new obstacles on their own horses and attending educational seminars, the instructors often watch other mounted units in action by attending mounted patrol competitions. The members of the BCMP don’t just go watch the competitions; they participate and have won many awards both as a group and individually.
It’s sometimes difficult for the BCMP to host their free training courses. With the officer’s busy work schedules, their charity work, and making time for their own families, it’s difficult to find a facility just right to hold the courses – one that’s available for two weekends in a row, and free. Luckily the BCMP may not have to depend on the generosity of arena owners for much longer, as recently BFI donated a 15-acre parcel of land to the BCMP where they hope to build their own training facility in the future.
In a time where mounted units are being disbanded due to budget constraints and lack of interest, the BCMP is still going strong…after nearly 16 years. This is largely due to the dedicated men, women, and families of the BCMP who donate their time, utilize their personal vehicles, equipment, and horses for all of the various activities. Unlike many horse units, the BCMP is a working unit, visiting schools, conducting searches, training other mounted patrol units, and this year, patrolling the grounds of Willie Nelson’s Birthday Bash. And although the BCMP doesn’t get paid much for their services, each year they donate a percentage of their funds to a charity.
Thank you to the BCMP for everything you give not only to the horse community, but to the general public.
Janet Kalinowski of Schertz, TX urging Nick, her 7-year-old Paint gelding to push the Yabba Dabba Do cart, while Gasper Sfuentes coaches from the sidelines.
Jennifer Kuhn of New Braunfels, TX and Fancy pushing the "BIG" ball.
Shirley Verhoef of Universal City going over the matress. The matress alone would be so bad, it's the two shopping carts on either side of the matress filled with tin cans with a roasting pan on top of the cans, with a child's wind-up toy in the pan moving the pan and rattling the cans! Shirley is riding Bart, her 10-year-old Thoroughbred.
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