Fort Museum features exciting Musical Ride




 Fort Museum features exciting Musical Ride






A tradition that began in the earliest days of Fort Macleod continues through July and August at The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police.


The Mounted Patrol, dressed in replica North West Mounted Police uniforms, performs four times daily from Wednesday to Sunday through July and August. 


“We can’t speak highly enough about our Musical Ride,” Fort Museum general manager Dawn Lauder said. “It is the only one in Canada that is a daily on-site ride in period costume.” 


Performances are at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. 


Visitors have a chance this summer to develop a closer relationship with the Mounted Patrol and its Musical Ride through the Red Serge VIP Horse Program.


Visitors can purchase a pass to help one of the riders groom their horse for the Musical Ride performance. They will help groom, saddle and bridle the horse, learn the secret of how the maple leaf is put on the horses, and do the inspection of the troop.


They will also enjoy VIP ringside seating to watch their horse perform and a special presentation at the end of the ride by their horse and rider team. People can also “adopt” a horse with a donation to a specific horse.


“It makes it a little more personal for people,” Lauder said.


In 1886, a riding school opened in Regina and the first Musical Ride was formed.


“Created from a desire of the early Mounties to amuse themselves, display their riding ability and entertain the local community, the Musical Ride also enabled the men to develop skills of timing, co-ordination and control of their horses,” Musical Ride co-ordinator Karl Brave Rock said. “The bandsmen, in an effort to preserve life, limb and instruments, were usually unmounted.”


Later attempts by the musicians to play while aboard their horses failed.


“The horses could not be persuaded to stand with dignity while men on their backs made strange and frightening noises,” Brave Rock said.


In 1920, the service became known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the modern touring Musical Ride was born.


“Since that time, the Fort Museum has developed its own Mounted Patrol, which recalls the early days of the force,” Brave Rock said. 


Since 1972, teenagers have spent their summer dressed in replica 1878 Mounted Police uniforms performing a Musical Ride for the entertainment of tourists. 


The Fort Museum’s Musical Ride was established as a lead-up to the 100th anniversary in 1973 of the forming of the North West Mounted Police. 


That first Mounted Patrol in 1972 was made up of Don Price, Neil Balkham, Dexter Knoblick, John Jacobsen, Monty Wesley, Darryl McKenna, Demehl Olsen and Larry Lauder and set the stage for what became a Fort Macleod tradition.


The Musical Ride is the showcase event at the Fort Museum through July and August every summer and last year celebrated its 40th anniversary.


The Mounted Patrol consists of eight riders employed by the Fort Museum dressed in uniforms much like those worn by the early North West Mounted Police.


Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier was recently asked to inspect the Mounted Patrol prior to a command performance for corporate sponsors of the Fort Museum.


“They’re just wonderful,” Stier said. “They have a wonderful set of horses.” 


The Mounted Patrol executes precision movements such as the Shanghai Cross, Y pattern, X movement, windmill, Dome and Serpentine.


Every performance ends with the thrilling Charge, with the Mounted Patrol charging toward the audience with lances lowered.