Officials from the RCMP Musical Ride say they should have pulled one of their horses from the show after it had injured itself.
Horse-lover Tasha Maynard posted a video on YouTube of a 12-year-old horse, Warren, limping through the first show at the PNE on Monday.
She said she noticed that one of the horses looked “a bit off”. “It appeared to look lame,” she said. “I continued watching it, it was lame.”
Superintendent Marty Chesser, officer in charge of the Musical Ride, said Warren came up lame during the show.
“We thought that he could work it out, and it was my decision whether to pull him or not, and I decided to keep him in,” he said.
He added it was a hard decision to make. “Warren is one of our lead horses, and if you pull him then you have to shuffle the deck.”
“I just thought at that particular time, I just felt that maybe we’ll leave him in.”
Const. James Guthrie has been Warren’s rider since March 2013. “He loves to do his job when he’s out there and the music comes on and he puts his head down and goes,” he said.
“He’s a good horse.”
Guthrie said during the show on Monday, Warren stumbled and then started to limp. “I just allowed him to canter and try to work it out.”
He asked the rider behind him to see if there was anything he should be concerned about and she told him that Warren was off on the one hind leg but it wasn’t anything worrying.
“We just keep going and get the show done.” said Guthrie.
“It’s emotional,” he added. “These are working animals that are treated very well. I grew up on a farm with livestock and the RCMP does an excellent job of looking after their animals.”
Chesser said there are no set protocols for injured horses in the show, and when it happens during the show, they have to make a split-second decision.
“Right after we took him out, he had a vet consultation, and an hour later he was fine,” he said.
They still don’t know why Warren was limping.
“You’re under such a microscope,” said Chesser. “So you’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t. I mean this is on YouTube now so when you look at it, obviously, we probably should have pulled the horse. I mean, there’s no further damage to the horse. so I guess in that respect, we’re pretty lucky.”
Maynard said when she posted the video she assumed the RCMP did not have a protocol in place for this type of incident. “So really I just wanted to take a video clip so that I could show it to the RCMP and hopefully that they would put a protocol in place for, if a horse is sore mid-show, they could pull it out and have that in place.”
“It’s obvious that the horse was in pain.”
Maynard said she has spoken with Chesser and the Musical Ride officials are going to have a debrief as soon as the season is over, and they will have a protocol in place if this type of thing happens again.
“Marty was fantastic,” said Maynard. “They clearly care about their horses.”
However, she said if she was riding Warren she would have stopped.
“If it was my horse and I felt it was lame, I would stop riding immediately.”
Guthrie said in his time with the Ride, this is the first time he has seen a horse go lame in the show. “It’s not something that’s a common occurrence.”
“We want the best for the animal, we don’t want to hurt them or make them worse.”