Horse mounted patrols are assigned to Federal Parks in Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco. These nationally acclaimed officers and mounts are highly respected for crowd management techniques. They also function to maintain order during major demonstrations and special events and have been transported to other sites in the National Park system to control demonstrations.
The United States Park Police Horse Mounted Unit is one of the oldest established police equestrian units in the United States. It was established in 1934 with one horse that was rented from a local stable. However, as the value of the mounted unit was proven, it was expanded to an operational strength that patrols and provides protection in the Washington metropolitan area, as well as New York and San Francisco.
The first use of horses by the United States Park Police followed the general trial and error method that prevailed throughout much of police work in those days. Rock Creek Park, a 1,900-acre tract of heavily wooded terrain lying in the heart of Washington, DC, is interspersed with equestrian trails that required special policing methods for which the horse is ideally suited. Large park areas with open spaces, picnic areas, ball fields, and other activities were soon found to be places where horses could patrol more effectively than foot officers or motorized vehicles. Because of this, stables were erected and new horse-mounted boundaries were established.
The Nation’s Capital hosts many civic functions each year. Some of them are annual events and some have a national and international character, such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Christmas Pageant of Peace, and the Presidential Inauguration. During the 1960's and the 1970's, the horses, in addition to being an attractive unit for display in parades, were found to be highly effective in crowd and traffic management at these functions. The horses were properly trained and conditioned to maneuver in crowds of people and through heavily traveled roadways so they would not endanger the public, themselves, or other riders.
The U.S. Park Police Horse Mounted training staff receives numerous requests from outside agencies to provide training. This agency has assisted the U.S. Army, U.S. Secret Service, as well as police departments from Maryland, New York, West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, New Mexico and many others. Instructors are regularly requested to provide training at police seminars as mounted colloquiums held throughout the United States. The United States Park Police Horse Mounted Unit offers the 400-hour Remount training "free of charge" to outside law enforcement agencies.