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Mounted Unit Spotlight: Interview Constable Laura Jacquet

Constable Laura Jacquet has been with the VPD for nearly 15 years including primarily working in Patrol in District 4 and on the Downtown Eastside. Most recently, she has spent the last 3.5 years with the Mounted Unit. We were lucky to sit down with Laura this summer and learn more about what it takes to be part of the VPD Mounted Unit and just how special the horses are.

How are police horses selected to join the Unit? What is the training process for a soon-to-be police horse?

The police horses that are currently with us have come from a variety of backgrounds. They’ve come from Equine Universities in the United States, from local trainers and contacts, or have been donated to the Vancouver Police Department. Each horse first needs to be vetted and then begins with groundwork, nuisance exercises and various levels of training that we all run-through with our horses.

What equestrian experience did you have prior to joining the Mounted Unit? And what was the training process for you when you joined Mounted?

Basically none! I rode as a child, but other than that I had no previous equestrian experience. The training process was a steep learning curve. We had regular lessons with a trainer and had to complete a formal evaluation before we were able to be deployed.

Are Members paired with one specific horse, similar to the Canine Unit?

We are partnered with one or two specific horses – we call this a primary mount and a secondary mount. My primary mount is PH Spur and my secondary mount in PH Stanley. Occasionally we will “share” our horse with a member that is on the opposite work schedule to us, but typically we each have our own specific primary mount that we ride on our workdays, to events, etc.  This helps the bond and build the relationship between horse and rider.

Which horse in the barn has the biggest personality?

They each have such unique personalities. I find that they are all silly in their own way, and it usually comes out when they are all together or with their rider specifically. Nelson, for example, is probably the naughtiest horse. Brockton loves to escape and is always opening his stall door, but has an extremely sweet demeanour. Fergus and Flex are the youngest and are little trouble-makers that go around chasing the other horses and try to annoy the other horses on purpose!

How does the Mounted Unit participate in the Celebration of Light and what is that experience like for the horses and the riders?

This truly was one of the most exhilarating moments of my Mounted Unit career. The horses were absolute rock stars, and other than one horse, (who has since retired,) none of the horses and most of the riders had never participated in the Celebration of Light. The horses stayed calm as a herd, they went through loud music, large crowds, deafening fireworks, and then swept the beach of people at the end of the night. I was so proud of our horses and our team during those three nights this summer.

Do you ever do cross-training with the Canine Unit to get the animals working together for certain scenarios?

We have had the K9 unit to our stables multiple times for training purposes. I don’t believe that there has been an opportunity yet to deploy both units, however the dogs and horses are calm and familiar with each other in the event a situation may arise.

What is it like for a police horse to switch between “work mode” and “leisure mode” and vise-versa?

Many people ask to “touch or pet” the horses when we are out on patrol. Although we love the support from the public and are happy to engage any questions, the horses are always in “work mode” and it’s not a suitable time to give them any love. When we return to their safe home at the barn, they are allowed to run free, have a bath, play with the other horses or have some loving attention from their riders. Our horses look to their riders as their leader, so when we are in work mode, they know to pay attention and need to be ready for what is required and asked of them.

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