A sea of red serge invaded the Albion Fairgrounds Monday evening for the RCMP Musical Ride.
Two local riders took part in the iconic Canadian performance that includes 32 riders and their horses from across the country performing intricate figures and drills choreographed to music.
Cpl. Amber Kasper from Maple Ridge joined the RCMP in 2009. She went to Laityview elementary and Thomas Haney secondary and has been a member of the Musical Ride since 2014.
Kasper is now an instructor with the ride.
“The musical ride, in my opinion, is the best job in the RCMP. I get to travel across Canada and meet tons of different people in different communities that I wouldn’t normally get to go in and I get to work with horses for a living.”
This year, the group has been practising since January. Members practice Monday to Friday for three hours a day.
The challenge is to get all 32 horses and 32 riders doing the same thing at the same time. They are broken into four columns, eight horses deep.
“Working with animals and this many people, it’s never easy to get everybody completely on the same page so we work really hard to get our choreography really tight and organized,” said Kasper.
She is not assigned a position in the ride. As an instructor, she usually floats around.
Some performances, she sits out to be able to view and critique the performance later.
Last night, Kasper had a lead role and rode her six-year-old mare, Idalia, at the front of the ride.
Cst. Sean Roche is a 10-year resident of Pitt Meadows.
He joined the RCMP in 2009 and this is his third tour with the Musical Ride.
He had never been on a horse before joining the troupe.
“Ninety to ninety five per cent of us have never been on a horse before and I’m definitely one of those,” he said.
“I always joked I never shot a gun before I joined the force, either. They kind of like it that way because it is a blank slate you don’t have to deconstruct the bad habits,” he explained.
But riders are trained.
He has fallen off his horse, too many times to count.
“Apparently you are learning when that happens.”
On Monday, Roche was riding a 10-year-old gelding named Elliott on what will be his final tour with the team.
When he finishes he will be rotated back into regular duty somewhere in B.C. He doesn’t know where, yet.
But after travelling the country and to England to perform for the Queen’s 90th birthday, he doesn’t mind.
“This has been a pretty amazing gig,” he said, adding that it will be tough leaving the horses behind.
Cars were lined up along Lougheed Highway to get into the park Monday evening for the sold-out show.
It took almost 45 minutes to travel from Tamarack Lane, east along Lougheed Highway to the venue site on 105th Avenue.
“We were charging for standing room only and people were happy doing that,” said Lorraine Bates, with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest, where part of the money raised will be going.
The other half will be going towards the Cops for Cancer Tour de Coast to send children suffering from cancer to Camp Goodtimes in Maple Ridge.
Three years ago, the Musical Ride raised $8,000 each for the fair and the North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association.
The Musical Ride performs in 50 communities across Canada between the months of May and October and raise thousands of dollars for local charities and non-profit organizations.
This years event was part of the Canada 150th celebration.