Esko, MN (NNCNOW.com)
It's been ten years since Duluth police officers have ridden high in the saddle.
This summer, four mounted officers will clop around Canal Park again.
First, they have to learn some horse sense.
Their skills right now range from fair to little.
"I've only ridden a couple of times before this. I'm looking forward to the training and everything like that." said Officer Craig Lindbergh.
"I've ridden in the past at horseback camp when I was young and trail riding here and there but nothing huge." said Officer Amber Peterson.
The four horse officers have just started a huge task; learn to flawlessly handle a large animal in just four months' time.
They're learning at River Ranch Arena in Esko.
Their instructor says they're catching on quickly.
"You know, they're remembering quite a bit. They're very enthusiastic and it's a joy to work with them." said trainer Jen Hovde.
"We've learned how to take care of the horses, tack them, saddle them and walk them and different procedures that way." said Peterson.
This re–born horse patrol will not be cheap to maintain.
It is estimated to cost $30,000 a year.
However, the Duluth Police Department already has nearly $100,000 in grants and gifts to fund the program.
The four horsemen and women feel the patrol will pay back the city by increasing security in Duluth's tourist hot spots.
"I think it will. Just like our bike patrol has made a huge difference downtown on the Lakewalk and Canal Park and Park Point. I think the horse patrol will add another aspect to that for policing down there." said Lindbergh.
"This is going to be a good thing. It's going to be fun and good for the public and good for the department." said Officer Jim Matson.
"We have the advantage of going places where cars can't. Our bike cops can but we're a different breed of animal you might say." said Peterson.
A different breed, indeed. The quartet of mounted officers will be the only four of their kind in the department.
"We're going to be spending a lot of time together and we're going to get to know our horses pretty well." said Officer Todd Kuuvisto.
In Esko, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.
The horses the officers are training with belong to River Ranch Arena.
The Duluth Police Department is still shopping around for the animals that will make up the patrol.