The RCMP is auctioning off 35 Hanoverian horses that, despite their impeccable pedigree, didn’t quite meet the unforgiving standards of the world-famous Musical Ride.
It was hardly their fault.
The horses up for sale either aren’t quite the right colour — black or dark, dark brown — or the right size to make it into the show, which demands the same uniformity from its equine performers as it does from its red-serged human ones.
The online auction — a first for the RCMP Foundation-organized event — began Aug. 24, and a live auction will be held at the Musical Ride stables in Ottawa on Oct. 13.
Musical Ride horses tend to stay with the program for 10 to 20 years. The Hanoverians currently up for auction range in age from yearlings to nine year olds, with a few retirees thrown into the mix.
Sgt. Maj. Martin Kohnen, the Musical Ride’s riding master, said for him, the auction brings mixed emotions.
“It always comes with a bit of trepidation for sure because they are part of our extended family. We see them basically from birth to the end,” he said.
Kohnen said the auction, which began in the 1990s, ensures the versatile horses go to good homes where they often move on to careers in hunting or dressage.
“I smile because I know they are going to be well, well taken care of, and ultimately that’s the idea — what’s best for the horses,” Kohnen said.
He wouldn’t discuss how much the horses typically sell for at auction, and said the quality of the animals — all products of the RCMP’s own breeding program — speaks for itself.
Golden Jubilee gift
Take Keeper, whose mother was a broodmare presented to the RCMP by Queen Elizabeth in 2002 to mark her Golden Jubilee.
Unfortunately, Keeper’s complexion is on the lighter side.
“I think that’s quite unique and quite rare,” Kohnen said. “Where else would you have a horse in your stable with such a pedigree?”
The online auction also includes a few retirees who were the right shade, but are now a bit long in the tooth.
Money raised through the auction, which runs until Sept. 23, will help fund both the Musical Ride program and the foundation’s programs for at-risk youth.