Nearly 50 years ago, a young RCMP officer found himself high in the saddle as a member of a coast-to-coast Musical Ride.
Tuesday evening, July 23 in Three Hills, the long-retired Don Schonfelder of Calgary found himself high in the bleachers watching the world-famous 2019 performance.
“What a contrast from when I was a member of the team,” he said. “Different music, different pace, and different demeanour for riders.”
The 72-year-old Schonfelder was among the hundreds, some from as far as Australia and Germany, who packed the Three Hills School sports field to watch the Innisfail Pipe Band and a police dog demonstration prior to the main event—32 black horses responding to rider commands in a complex series of cavalry drills.
Sponsored by the Legion and Elks, the standing-room-only performance was preceded that afternoon by the arrival of an RCMP helicopter from Edmonton and a multi-disciplinary safety fair.
Nearly 20 participating organizations ranging from CN police and Citizens on Patrol to the Three Hills and Trochu fire departments and Victim Services were in attendance.
The Musical Ride, first presented in 1887, and in Three Hills five years ago, was housed both times at Bill and Susan Zens private stables east of town.
RCMP Sgt. Major Martin Kohnen described the facility as “one of the best we stay in while on the road. The facility was a deciding factor in our decision to return to Three Hills.”
For his part, stable owner Bill Zens, a 25-year RCMP veteran, said having the Musical Ride stay at his facility is a “treasured highlight”.