New York City’s Cop Horses

Today’s NY Times carries a story about the horse cops in New York. Not the mounted police, but the horses themselves.

These beautiful animals deserve great respect for being able to handle a difficult job. I also have much admiration for the police officers who care for and ride these horses. The mounted police need extra compassion and strength to be able to handle these big, sensitive animals, along with their own difficult jobs as law enforcers.

I’ve loved horses all my life. To encounter one of the big brown or bay New York City police horses in Manhattan is always a thrill for me.

I used to work near a police stable, and every evening when I’d leave the office, I’d see two or three mounted police officers riding up Eighth Avenue, near Times Square.

Mounted officers’s heads are about 10 feet from the ground. The mounted cops would be riding up Eighth, chatting with each other like gods, high above the rest of us mortals on the pavement. The horses’ heads were about a foot higher than my own. I’d try to make eye contact with the horses. They’d often greet me with a whinney or a snort. One horse would rear up slightly to say hello. They always knew I was interested in them, and had good enough dispositions and training that they enjoyed the interest.

They were brilliant animals — an amazing thing to see in the crowded, gray streets of midtown Manhattan. Enjoy the story, A New Crime Fighter, for $10 in Hay and Oats — it has a good multimedia piece about how they’re prepared for work on the streets.

So, today I take my hat off today to the NY Times, for publishing this story about these beloved animals. (OK, so I don’t wear hats, and it’s true that, even if I did, today is too warm for a hat anyway. It’s my metaphorical hat that’s off to the Times for this story.)

© 19 Apr 2006 Heather Quinn