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RV Lifestyle
The image of the red-coated Mountie in broad-brimmed Stetson
hat is associated with Canada around the world. But there is more
to the Mounties than just a romantic image.
From the beginning of its history, the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP) has served Canada and its people by establishing
law and order in the frontier reaches of this vast nation.
Representing a colourful Canadian tradition and ceremony
through the horse and the scarlet uniform, the RCMP created a
spectacle known around the world as the Musical Ride.
The Origin
The Musical Ride originated with the NorthWest Mounted Police
(NWMP) as they made the Great MarchWest across Canada
in 1874. Although the original NWMP were scattered in small
groups over tens of thousands of miles of unsettled prairies, they
routinely practised both mounted and foot drills.
During this time, Sergeant Major Robert Belcher and other
members who directed the mounted training had been members
of the British cavalry regiments and had experience in performing
drill displays.
Only after the men of the NWMP had formed their own band, did
the riding displays take the form of the Musical Ride as we know
it today. The performance of the drill movements accompanied
by music helped the NWMP to entertain themselves during the
evening or while off duty.
The Early Years
The first recorded display of the NWMP riding performance, under
the direction of Sergeant Major Belcher – and with no public in
attendance – took place at Fort Macleod, Alberta in 1876. Training
for, and performing the Musical Ride provided relief for the
officers from the daily drill periods and routine duties.
At the Regina barracks in 1887, the NWMP performance was first
named the Musical Ride.
A total of five performances were given that year. There were no
public displays for many years after this, because regular police
duties and the creation of new posts took precedence.
The NWMP riding performance became a form of public
entertainment in 1904. The troop trained under the direction of
Inspector Frank Church and performed inWinnipeg, Brandon,
Qu’appelle and Regina.
Some of the Musical Ride movements are based on cavalry drills.
These drills began to take shape during the 18
th
century, when
Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786) revolutionized cavalry
tactics and trained his cavalry to a standard which became the
envy and ideal of other European nations.
The basis of the Ride’s movements stem from the ability to move
a mounted cavalry regiment with some form of organization,
e.g. single file, half-sections, and sections at all three paces. Since
1887, Musical Ride instructors have developed and elaborated on
these basic movements.
The Musical Ride became a permanent entity of the RCMP in 1961.
Until then, it had been impossible to plan performances far in
advance, as there had always been doubts about whether or not
the Ride would continue.
Between 1920 and 1961, there were two Rides that performed
in various parts of Canada and the US. One Ride was based
in Rockcliffe, Ontario and the other in Regina, Saskatchewan,
RCMP
Musical Ride