Dr. Howard Ketover and Irongate Equine Clinic have been caring for the horses of the Madison Mounted Police Unit for many years now. The mounted unit was resurrected in 2007, and Dr. Ketover began treating their horses in 2009. Since then, we have worked with all of the current team, as well as past horses who are no longer with us.
While Mounted Police Units are few and far between, police forces are beginning to understand the benefit horseback units bring to a city.
Police officers on horseback have a better vantage point than those on foot, or in a squad car. In both of the latter cases, their visuals in large crowds are really limited to what’s directly in front of them. Officers on horseback have a six foot height advantage, and are able to see down a full block. These mounted police can spot trouble brewing from a distance, and are able to intervene earlier in any altercations.
These horses also bring a calming affect to rambunctious crowds. Oftentimes, rowdy crowds have preconceived notions about police that include trouble, intimidation and fear. Officers on horseback tend to be less immediately intimidating to crowds – they distract people from the trouble that’s happening.
Horses create space more easily than officers on foot. Without needing to use force, officers can navigate the horses around crowds and create space in excitable crowds. People who aren’t familiar with horses have an instinct to move back from the big draft horses.
The Mounted Unit creates goodwill in the community. As Officer Sarah McLaughlin puts it, “We always joke that no one wants to pet a squad car, per say, or a police car, but the horses are an approachable means for the police to be able to interact with the public and kind of draw people out of their homes!”
You can find the Madison Mounted Police Unit at large events like Freakfest, Mifflin Street Block Party, and on Badger game days. They also show up in neighborhoods and local parks to meet the people of Madison! You can check out the Madison Mounted Police Unit’s schedule on their webpage. Make sure to meet Luna, Beau, Bubba, Scarlett and Mr. T next time you see them out on the town!