Northern Nevada Mounted Units head to class

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:17 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - With shields and protective face and body gear the deputies are geared up to practice crowd control. So are the horses who ride next to them. They too have the same gear on during the exercises.

Each year mounted units from Northern Nevada gather at Fuji Park in Carson City for certification in the annual Northern Nevada Mounted Patrol School.

It is a chance to brush up on skills or experience a real-life simulation for the first time.

“We are doing riot control with the detention response team and shields and everything,” says Washoe County Under Sheriff Jeff Clark with his horse Spirit. “It is new to a horse. So, you’ve got to get them used to that. And it looks seamless when we are in public. But it is because we do so much training on the down time.”

The general public may be unaware of the training.

But those who are on mounted units know the horses are great representatives for their departments. Often putting the public at ease during big events. That’s the case with a Clydesdale named Maximus who is with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Mounted Unit.

“They are chill, they are relaxed,” says his partner, Deputy Walter Lum. “And that’s why we selected him to be on this unit.”

The riders own their own horses.

And while departments buy the official tack and protective wear for the animals, other expenses like hay, farrier, dental, and vet care for the most part are on the deputy to pay for. At trainings like this there will be travel trailers so participants can save money.

It’s part of the job and one that the deputies accept no questions asked.

“For a weekend like this I can spend roughly around $600 to $1,000 depending upon how many trips you have to come back and forth location,” says Deputy Heather Hart with her horse Tango. Asked why this is important to her? “We love it,” she says. “We love our community. It is a great time to spend with everyone.”

But recently a local auxiliary has taken on the task of helping Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputies on the mounted unit. With the help of private donations and local fundraisers organizers hope to help horse and rider stay focused on protecting the community instead of an unanticipated expense.