Nashville police welcomes two new horses to mounted patrol

MountedPatrol .jpeg
Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 19:52:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police Department officers are called to serve in many ways, and for some, that’s on horseback.

“Our primary function is crowd control — so big events like the Tennessee Titans games, downtown on Friday and Saturday nights on Broadway — anywhere you find a big crowd, you’ll find us," said officer and trainer Chris Seufer.

Metro’s Mounted Patrol Unit is now nine horses strong with new additions TJ and Flint. TJ hails from Manchester, where he performed as a Tennessee Walking Horse. Flint, a show-horse dropout, comes from Shelbyville. Now, these two are working on new skills to join the police force.

“There's a big difference in going from a barn to a trailer to an arena. We’re going from a barn to a trailer, to downtown Nashville, where he might see the pedal taverns, one of our police helicopters. Anything you might come across, he's never seen before,” explains Seufer.

Horses are skittish by nature, so Seufer spends time in an arena working to desensitize the horses, all while gaining their trust and developing a bond.

The real test comes on an obstacle course of sorts. Each setup is designed to imitate anything the horse may encounter in the field – litter, uneven surfaces, and loud noises.

“We try to make everything that can happen in a controlled environment first and maybe around some more veteran horses, so they see he’s OK with it, I need to be OK with it.”

The horses take about a year to train. But the officers who ride them need training too. They must spend at least 150 hours in the saddle before heading into the field.

“When we work with them, they need to know it’s a partnership, and we're the leaders and trust that we're not going to put them in a situation that might get them hurt.”

Seufer said being on horseback gives officers a better view of crowds and allows them to respond more quickly to situations that may arise. He also said as a bonus, the horses are great ambassadors for the department.

“These are probably the most famous police officers on the department. Ninety-nine percent of people just want to pet on them and take pictures and put them on their Facebook pages.”

TJ and Flint should be making the rounds on Broadway by the end of this year. The human officers on the Mounted Patrol provide all the care and maintenance for the horses, even cutting the hay they heat. The operation - not including manpower - costs the department about 80-thousand dollars a year.