At Edgewater Stables in Washington, D.C., the four-legged members of the United States Park Police learn how to protect and serve.
Members of the USPP Horse Mounted Unit patrol the federal parks in New York City, San Francisco, and the nation’s capital.
“We work in the parks, we work downtown on the National Mall, we work around the monuments, around the White House, and there’s a lot of places there that you just can’t get a car,” USPP Officer Mariea Sabaté said. “When people are looking for a police officer, you can see us from a great distance when we’re on our horse.”
Sabaté became the division’s first female instructor in 1997. She has spent the past 20 years enjoying every day of work.
“It’s a great job. We all here love our horses, and we wouldn’t be doing anything else,” she said.
USPP Officer Janet Kim echoed her sentiment. “I get to do what I love every day, and I get to work with horses every day,” she said. “When I was a little girl, I could not have dreamed about anything better than what I do today.”
In fact, according to Sabaté, officers turn down promotions to stay with the unit, as changing jobs would mean leaving their horses behind.
“All of the officers come here and they usually plan on staying here for their whole careers because we love what we do so much,” Sabaté said.
New members of the Horse Mounted Unit are paired up with horses who personalities match theirs. There’s a reason for that.
“[Horses’] personalities are as different as people’s personalities,” Kim said. “When you’re a police officer stuck in a car with a partner for 12 hours, you’d better be able to get along. Same with the horse and his rider.”
She fondly remembers the first horse she was assigned when she joined the unit.
“We didn’t click right away. There was a period of trying to figure each other out,” she admitted. “But eventually, we became partners. I trusted him with my life, and he took care of me. The years I spent with my patrol horse were some of my favorite years on this job, and I’ll never forget him.”