New Mounted Patrol Units Form Across Mid-State - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

New Mounted Patrol Units Form Across Mid-State

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Under the eyes of an expert, dozens of mounted patrol teams trained together this week at the Ellington Agricultural Center. 

Sam Powell has trained horses and riders for most of his life.

"I try to watch the horse and I watch the rider, and if they're having problems I've got to figure out what's causing the problem before I can fix it," said Powell. 

Powell said the biggest issue is usually communication. He said it takes a good three years to build a good team. 

New mounted patrols are forming in Wilson, Benton and Hamilton counties. Police see the benefit of patrolling on horseback. 

"A lost child, we can go into areas with these horses and see a lot more area on horseback than an officer on foot can go," said Don Witherspoon with the Wilson County mounted patrol. 

The one week school culminated with a friendly timed competition on an obstacle course.

The obstacles on the course were set up as distractions, like the distractions the rider and horse may encounter on the street.  It's very important that the horse do exactly what the handler tells it to do. 

"The horse has to be able to trust the rider on his back because he's going to depend on that rider to take care of him in a situation where he becomes afraid," said Witherspoon. 

Noisy fans blew air on the animals. They walked over mattresses and bridges. They tested the team's mobility moving side to side. 

The horse has to cooperate because in places like Nashville anything can happen. 

"We've had some situations where we've had some large fights and disgruntled folks after an event or maybe when the bars close downtown," said J.D. Harber with the Metro Police mounted patrol. 

Selecting horses for a mounted patrol sometimes is not easy. It's even more difficult in Nashville because most of the horses were donated. Police officers train them and choose the best for the street.

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