On Sunday, April 9, the New Orleans Police Department Mounted Unit welcomed a filly who they hope will be an equine officer in a few years.
According to the NOPD Facebook page, the new filly’s mom, Allie, is one of two pregnant mares that the mounted unit acquired in the fall of 2016 as they launched their horse breeding program. The other mare, a Percheron named Endy, gave birth to a colt named Tebo Stardust on March 17.
Mounted police units obtain horses through a variety of means. Sometimes they’re donated. Often they’re purchased from private owners or from programs that specialize in raising and training police horse prospects. New Orleans had previously acquired most of its horses from a breeding program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
It’s fairly unusual for a police department to breed its own horses, but when the prison program closed, the NOPD made the decision to purchase a stallion and two mares from the disbanded herd in order to start bringing up their own mounts to replace the older ones as they retire. The unit currently has 26 horses in its stables, including the two new foals and their mothers.
Mounted police units are popping up and expanding in cities across the country after several years of decline in the years following the 2008 recession. New Orleans’ unit stays busy with the city’s active social scene, assisting with crowd control during parades, music festivals and high-profile sporting events as well as patrolling the lively French Quarter and Central Business District areas of the city. With the new breeding program, they hope to expand the territory of the mounted patrol to more areas as a part of regular neighborhood policing.
Learn more about the city’s Adopt a Horse program, which helps support the NOPD Mounted Unit, and get to know some of the horses on patrol at nopjf.org/adopt-a-horse/
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com