ARIZONA RANGERS MOUNTED UNIT
In July of 2003, four Rangers from the Verde Valley Company discussed the possibility of forming a Mounted Unit. Those Rangers were Denny and Kathy Waybright, Dee Zenk and Bob Carlyon. After approaching the Company Captain Terry Manning and securing his approval to pursue the idea, the matter went before the entire Company for discussion. It was decided that if such a Unit was to be formed, it should be done professionally and with proper training.
Gaining the support of the Company, the next steps were to research Basic Mounted Police Training programs that might be available in Arizona. As it turned out, Geiser Equine, Inc. of Ocala, FL was scheduling a Basic Mounted Police School in October, 2003, at West World in Scottsdale, AZ. At about the same time we learned that the Sedona Police Department was also considering establishing a Mounted Unit. Contact was made with their Assistant Chief Dana Schmidt who was in charge of developing such a Unit. After several personal calls, it was ascertained that he would be willing to work with us in developing and training our Unit.
The four Rangers as noted in paragraph one above, then sought more specific information about the Geiser Equine training. While primarily designed for established law enforcement personnel, Geiser stated that we would be permitted to enroll in their program. Since the formal training program that we were interested in would not be until October, plans were made to work with the personnel from the Sedona PD in preliminary training. The idea was that if we could develop a level of competence prior to taking the formal training, we would be a bit ahead of the game. Further, we would wait until after several weeks of preliminary training before making a decision to enroll or not enroll in the more formal program to be held in Scottsdale.
As the preliminary training progressed, it was decided that all four Rangers should enroll in the Geiser program. Applications were submitted and the Rangers were accepted for the October Basic Mounted Police School to be held at West World in Scottsdale, AZ October 3-10, 2003.
The school was intense. Training began each morning at 7:00 am and continued most days for 10-12 hours. It included matters such as Horsemanship Safety, Horse Anatomy and Psychology, Equitation, Formation Riding for Crowd Control, Community Policing, Public Relations, Formation exercises, Mounted arrest techniques,and Mounted shooting, to name a few. Mid-week the class went into the late evening fondly known as Hell Night. It consisted of exercises conducted with the horses in dim to no light with various external stimuli all happening at oncefireworks, flares, police vehicles with lights ablazing, moving obstacles and etc.
The reward finally came on the last day when the certificates of completion were distributed. Jobs well done!
From those early beginnings, the Verde Valley Mounted Unit continues to grow and develop. Currently headed by 1st.Lt. Art Bertolina, the Mounted Unit professional training is now conducted through MOTA the Mounted Officer Training Association headquartered in the Phoenix area. However, weekly training is held every Saturday morning at 10:30 am at the River Run ranch in Cottonwood. All persons interested in learning more about horsemanship are welcome to be present.