Exactly 25 years after it came to Wawota the first time, the RCMP Musical Ride is returning to the community.
The RCMP Musical Ride will be in Wawota on July 28, 2015.
Meredith Swanson, who applied to have the ride come to Wawota, says he was surprised when he received word that Wawota was accepted.
“Back in 1990 we had the Muscial Ride in Wawota, so it would be the 25th anniversary from the last one,” he says. “I was involved in the last one. I thought I’ve talked about it and talked about it, so I made a few phone calls and sent in an application and just about fell out of my chair when they let us know they are coming.”
Swanson says it will be the Wawota Business Enhancement Group that will spearhead organization of the Musical Ride, although he says most of the groups in town will need to get involved to organize the large event.
“We need to involve all of the other groups in town because it’s such a large thing that it can’t all be done by just a few people,” he says.
Aside from the Musical Ride itself, Swanson says the town needs to provide 30 to 45 minutes of entertainment before the ride. Arrangements also need to be made for stabling the horses in the rink and feeding the horses, and the grounds for the ride will need to be prepared.
Swanson says the ride will be held in the same place it was held in 1990, on the north side of the town where the Little Pipestone Valley slopes to form a natural amphitheatre. He says last time the natural setting provided a beautiful backdrop for the ride.
“Just to the east side of the area where the amphitheatre is, it’s well treed. And the mounties came out four abreast and walked down this hill, and that scarlet and black against the green, it brought tears to people’s eyes,” says Swanson.
Last time the Musical Ride was in Wawota, Swanson says about 2,500 people came out to see it, and he is hoping the be able to attract that many people again.
The Musical Ride was developed from a desire by early members of the North-West Mounted Police to display their riding ability and entertain both themselves and the local community.
The first officially recorded Musical Ride was performed in Regina under Inspector William George Matthews in 1887.
Today, in keeping with tradition, the Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and horses, plus the member in charge. The Musical Ride consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music.
Demanding control, timing and co-ordination, these movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in twos, fours and eights at the trot and at the canter. Months of training, practice and many kilometres around the riding school go into perfecting the ride.
The horses must not only appear in the Musical Ride, but on Parliament Hill, in parades, special events and have the ability to travel and adapt to different environments, as well as hours of petting and photo-taking.
Swanson says Wawota is fortunate to be hosting the ride again.
“We are very lucky, I feel, to be given the opportunity to host it. I’m excited that they are coming.”
He says when he applied for the ride he didn’t realize that the town would be coming up to the 25th anniversary of the last time the ride was in Wawota.
“It’s great. It was so unplanned. I didn’t even know when I applied for it when we had it last. When the RCMP responded saying they were coming, then we looked it up and by golly it was 1990.”
Swanson says planning for the ride will likely begin this week.