The Last Post - advertises a virtual soak-bath in maple syrup for the soul.

By Alan Harrington

September 26th, 2023



Just before Burlington Post’s last “print version” came off the presses last week, it ran an ad for an upcoming local musical performance. Burlingtonians LOVE musical performances – this one was different.

It was an ad for the RCMP Musical Ride.

Front page of the last print edition of the Burlington Post

One of those events usually held in some far-flung village nobody can get to across Canada’s vast expanse. Like South Moose Antler Ridge, Saskatchewan.

And it’s OLD. Thing’s has been around since Sir John A Macdonald was our prime minister.

I decided – why not? grabbed a $10 ticket and went. Location was right next door at Woodbine Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville

Parking was free – the lot was packed. A horse race was running when I arrived (SPICY PASTA won) and then they closed the track to set up for the Musical Ride. I watched them measure and precisely place the pylons in a square on the track.

Before the Red-Coated Mounties trotted in on their black horses everyone stood for the singing of O Canada and listened to the Land Acknowledgement that had more meaning than usual, this being Mohawk raceway, and our RCMP who have a long relationship with First Nations.

The RCMP Musical Ride pauses as the audience sings O Canada and listens to an Land Acknowledgement.

RCMP Superintendent Fahey was the emcee, and his majestic horse was a beauty – the show was underway.

A symbol of tradition, honour, and pride, the Musical Ride is a Canadian icon recognized at home and abroad. The troop of 21 riders, who are all police officers, perform intricate formations and drills set to Canadian music, lasting about 30 minutes. These movements demand the utmost control, timing, and coordination.

The kids would like the way the horses moved about the field – but for me sitting front row, it was watching riders control their mounts. Some horses get persnickety and moody – and maybe don’t always want to be on their best behaviour.

The reigns in one hand and the lance in the other – as the horses are put through very tight drills.

The Mounties use one hand on the reins to maintain horse-choreography whilst holding their lance in the other. I understand these are professionals – but not an easy task and still fun to watch in action.

Some of the Mounties had never ridden a horse before joining the force.

The announcer called out the different movements the group made including a “Double Diamond” – made special for the late Queens 70th Jubilee. The Queen always had a fondness for our Canadian horses and the RCMP often leads the royal parade in London. Our RCMP paraded in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession in 1897 and taken part in every coronation since King George V’s in 1911. The tradition continues as the RCMP gifted a seven-year-old black mare named Noble, to King Charles III earlier this year.

Some history about the equestrian showcase: It was formed in 1887 and has run intermittently since then. Women joined the crew in 1981 and they do about 45 shows a year May to October – raising money for local community charities.

The $50 bill was in circulation from 1969 to 1979

Back to the show, the next display was the “Dome” (which is the image on the old fifty-dollar bill), and then they did “Charge…!!”

The show ended to great applause as the sun slipped down over the horizon.

Image of a maple leaf is brushed into the rump of each horse

Afterwards, the crowd were able to meet the horses and riders one-on-one in the parking lot. I asked if any other riders that night had participated in the Coronation parade and indeed an officer I spoke with was one of four in London that day in May.

I know the RCMP get some bad press – and they have a very difficult job to do in the field – but nothing is more Canadian than watching this show. A virtual soak-bath in maple syrup for the soul.

The Musical Ride supports front-line police operations by building positive relationships, supporting recruiting efforts and promoting the RCMP’s image in communities in Canada and around the world.

If you want to catch the show you’ll have to wait for North Moose Antler Ridge Saskatchewan in 2024.

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