It always pays to “know someone on the inside” but now, you can say you do! We’ve got the inside scoop on your next big adventure: a tour of the Toronto Police Services Mounted Unit Stables! Hop on!
We hopped on the GO train – that is now free for kids to ride! – and headed into Exhibition Station, which is where the Toronto Police Services houses its horses. The horses and the entire Mounted Unit have been stationed in the Horse Palace since 1968!
The Horse Palace is a gorgeous old building, built in 1932, and situated on Exhibition grounds. From the moment we stepped off the GO train, we saw officers riding horses around the grounds, and some horses being led to transportation vehicles. Our first observation – police horses are huge!
During our tour, we were introduced to all of the police horses, I’m guessing there was about 30?! And while I’ve seen horses up close many times before, I was blown away by how tall and solid TPS horses were! I mean, it makes sense, but whoa! Toronto Police horses are a couple of different breeds currently, we saw Clydesdales, Percherons, and some mixed breed horses as well. My favourite was Blue Jay, a give from the Toronto Blue Jays to TPS (best gift ever!).
I hadn’t noticed before that police horses don’t have manes. For safety reasons their manes are trimmed into short mohawk-like ‘dos, and kept that way by their Officer, who is responsible for much of their care. We met the 2 newest recruits, and when my kids asked why those horses had “bangs” we learned that the forelock (or bangs, if you’re a kid) is kept long until the horse is officially on he job. It’s a good way to silently signal to other mounted officers that you’re approaching on a less experienced horse.
We got to pet each horse, and we learned about their diets and exercise, plus how long it takes them to be trained before they go into duty (6-12 months depending on the horse). We saw the ring they use as part of their training, and heard all about what duty entails when you’re part of the Mounted Unit. The horses are used for parades and protests because they can see over the tops of heads with ease, and they spend their late nights in Toronto’s Entertainment District helping move party-goes along and making sure alleys are safe. But their best work is done when they’re community ambassadors. The way neighbourhoods of kids and adults react to seeing huge, beautiful horses walk their streets is enchanting. The Officers hand out trading cards of their horses,
This section of the stables was home to three hoses, including one fellow named Dragoon, who was loudly seeking attention! These stables are strongly reinforced, which is good, because Dragoon has a rude habit of kicking the door of his stable until someone comes over to give him some love. Check out the video on our Instagram page.
This was one of the best ways we’ve spent a Friday yet, and I highly recommend you and your kids pay the Mounted Unit a visit. Ask about a tour, or a future Open House. These horses are majestic!