Mounted Posse trains with sheriff |

Mounted Posse trains with sheriff

by Merrie Leininger

In a large crowd, a fight breaks out and officers on horseback are able to get there to break it up before officers on foot are able to get there.

The Douglas County Mounted Posse trained for just such an incident last week with Bob Zimmer, the Sheriff of Teton County, Wyo.

Zimmer was invited to do the training by the mounted posse after attending a similar session he led in Carson City.

“Six members went to Carson City training last May and invited him back,” said Ed Abrams of the mounted posse.

Zimmer calls the training “sensitivity training,” which gets the horse used to loud noises and large crowds.

“It exposes the horse to something he wouldn’t normally be exposed to and gives the riders experience,” said mounted posse member John Dicks.

Posse members start slowly and get the horse used to small distractions like flags flapping in the wind, and lead up to bottle rockets and Roman candles as the grand finale.

“If they can’t handle the stress, this is the best place to find out. We train through exposure,” Zimmer said.

The horses are put through various obstacle courses and fireworks are shot off near them to get them used to the strange people and sounds.

Posse members also learn to move a crowd in the direction the officers want, by using the horses in a wedge formation or by splitting the group.

“If you make the horse and rider a team or a unit, it affords them a different means of crime and traffic control. There are not many 12- foot tall police officers out there,” Zimmer said.

He said the officers on horses have a much better view of what is going on around them. He said it is a very effective method of crowd control, and public relations, especially in a rural community such as the Carson Valley, where many people are used to horses.

“I think it is the best public relations tool ever. I’ll bet you’ve never seen anyone pet a patrol car. But, everyone wants to pet your horse,” Zimmer said. “It’s the best way to do crowd control. It’s not offensive in areas such as this to have horses around.”

The 30 members of the mounted posse who went through the 40 hours of training received a certificate of completion.

Zimmer has been doing the training since 1991. The Teton County Sheriff’s Office started its own mounted posse in 1984, he said.

The Douglas County Mounted Posse was formed two years ago.