No Easy Ride: Reflections on My Life in the RCMP
caused the horses to nicker and impatiently stomp their hooves. Once the horses had eaten, the recruits saddled up, put on the famous RCMP buffalo coat to fend off the cold and ventured out. The horses, having been confined to the stables overnight and now filled with hot bran, were restless, mischievous and strangely eager to leave their warm home. As the mounted troop exited, and the horses hit the cold air, a chemical reaction seemed to occur. One of the horses would release a gigantic fart, bucking and kicking as he expended his gas. This signalled to the others to do likewise, and chaos would reign. On one occasion, before control was regained, furry mounds of buffalo fur, breeches and spurs were randomly distributed in the snow adjacent to the horse barn. To a man, the troop had been involuntarily dismounted. The instructors were greatly entertained by the fiasco and roared at the riders to recapture their horses and remount.
    Over and above our equitation duties, four members of our troop had joined the training division’s drum and bugle corps. Volunteers came from various troops, and the band would play simple marches during the traditional one o’clock parade following the lunch hour. The only troops excused from the parade were those assigned to afternoon equitation. Realizing the band was the darling of Sergeant Major MacRae, and knowing he was watching us carefully, we had volunteered for his band to convey our enthusiasm and troop spirit. This display of initiative worked in our favour until we missed our afternoon ride because we were performing with the bugle band on the parade square. As the troop lined up for inspection prior to the ride, Corporal Landers noticed it was conspicuously reduced in number. He demanded to know where the missing four members were. When he learned we were on the square playing in the bugle band, he waited for our appearance, some 30 minutes late. Landers promptly rechristened us with names to reflect our musical endeavours: Beethoven, Mozart, Ravel and Strauss. As a penalty for our late appearance at the riding stables, we received extra attention during the equitation session. Following the harangue by the riding instructors, the four of us decided not to arrive late for another equitation class. When equitation was scheduled for the troop, we were present for riding inspection.
    Later that day we were summoned to the office of the sergeant major, who demanded to know why we were absent from the band. After our explanation, he made it absolutely clear what would happen to us if we again failed to appear with the bugle band. When we asked him how we should cope with our riding instructor, he said to leave that to him. We could only imagine what transpired between the riding staff and the sergeant major, but no words were spoken when we appeared late for our next equitation class. However, we were still called by our musical names while in the stable and were appropriately persecuted in small ways for the remainder of our riding days. We were assigned difficult horses, given the less palatable jobs in the stables and frequently assigned the intimidating task of grooming the stallions, in addition to many other tasks that would make our lives more difficult.
    My musical talents would further complicate my quest for a law-enforcement career. At the halfway point of our training, I was summoned to the personnel office and asked if I had any interest in joining the RCMP band in Ottawa. I respectfully declined, telling the interviewer I wished to work as a policeman. Several weeks later, they once again contacted me, this time informing me that I was to go to Ottawa at the conclusion of training to join the band. At the time, the RCMP band was only a part-time organization with musicians holding down administrative jobs and playing as and when required. Extremely agitated and disappointed, I explained that prior to joining the RCMP I had been a member of one of the premier regimental

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