Sheriff’s office begins mounted patrol training

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — The new mounted patrol in Natchez will let locals and tourists indulge in the sound of leather saddles and the sight of deputies on horseback — even if it means avoiding a stinking pile from time to time.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield instructed the first training session for deputies to learn how to strut on their horses while falling in line Monday evening near the Adams County firing range on Foster Mound Road.

Mayfield said the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race will likely be the first event where he and his horse Rio make their mounted patrol debut, along with eight or nine other deputies.

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Mayfield said mounted patrol will be used for festivals and other community events to keep watch above the heads of the crowd.

The mounted patrol can also aid in search and rescue missions because horses can cover more ground than humans on foot and can reach wooded areas cars cannot, Mayfield said.

Mayfield said he was the commander of county’s mounted patrol from the 90s until 2004, and the patrol unit was successful.

Mayfield said the unit also serves as good public relations because people enjoy the cowboy nostalgia.

“It adds a lot of flavor to the city,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said the deputies who have volunteered for mounted patrol all share an excitement about the new program.

“It’s work, but its also people that are horse people and enjoy riding,” Mayfield said.

At the training session, Mayfield and four other deputies practiced formations.

He said socializing the horses to become comfortable with each other and a variety of obstacles, noises and situations is crucial to preparing them for crowded streets.

Captain Wayne Rabb, who attended the session, has been through training with the mounted patrol unit in Mobile, Ala., and he has certification to train others, Mayfield said.

Peggy Stevens, a reserve deputy who rode one of her six horses to the training session, said her horse Chisum should feel comfortable when patrolling because he has competed in horse shows and barrel races.

Stevens said Chisum’s loud “neh” meant he wanted his stable mates to participate in the training session, too.

“He’s calling his five friends,” Stevens said.

Mayfield said he will probably have training sessions every two weeks until the patrol unit begins. Once the horses become acclimated, he said he will hold quarterly sessions.