Members of the RCMP Musical Ride perform at the Albion Fairgrounds in Maple Ridge on Monday evening. The troupe will be in Victoria and Colwood for shows this weekend. Colleen Flanagan/Black Press

RCMP musical ride performing this weekend in Greater Victoria

Equestrian performers will be in Topaz Park on Saturday, Royal Roads on Sunday

Bill Hillcoat remembers when he first learned to ride a horse after he joined the RCMP in the early 1960s at 19.

With 32 riders to a troupe, officers in the red serge perform similar choreography today for the RCMP Musical Ride, such as the “dome” from Canada’s previous $50 bill, “cross-overs” – Hillcoat describes that as “Xs and Os, but with horses” – and the charge.

Before he joined, he’d never been on a horse before.

“Not too many cowboys in New Brunswick,” he said.

In 1961, he did the Western Canada tour and in 1962 the Eastern tour down into California and Oregon, and Seattle to the World’s Fair, where he saw Elvis. “He was doing a movie, It Happened at the World’s Fair, one of those Elvis-type movies,” Hillcoat said, laughing.

All new recruits underwent a mandated four months of equitation, starting from scratch riding bareback and graduating to riding with saddles and other equipment. But not everyone took to it and joined the troupe.

Performing was the easy part, according to Hillcoat; it’s the practice, grooming the horses and cleaning the stalls and equipment that takes the most work.

The RCMP musical ride performs in Victoria this weekend, with shows at Topaz Park on Saturday (Aug. 26) and Royal Roads University on Sunday, as part of a cross-country tour to celebrate Canada 150. Performances include the 32 riders exhibiting choreographed drills, as well as massed pipes and drums.

And Bill Hillcoat will be there, front and centre.

“If they’re in town I always try to go. It brings back old memories of when I was a young buck,” he said.

RCMP Island District spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Douglas said the equestrian performance is a family-friendly event and a particularly appropriate way to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

“It’s a very Canadian feel to watch these mounties on horses, doing their cavalry drills. It’s pretty impressive to watch,” she said. “It’s iconic, right? The mountie on horseback is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.”

If you can’t make it, two RCMP officers will be in front of the parliament buildings on Friday at 5 p.m., or you can visit the horses in the stables at the Hunt Valley Farm in Saanich on Friday (Aug. 25) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The performances, hosted by the Victoria Military Music Festival Society, begin at 1:30 p.m. in Topaz Park and the same time at Royal Roads University on Sunday. Both shows are free, but donations will be accepted to raise money for local charities.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Island Health, service providers meeting to talk about used needles in Victoria

Recent public needle-prick incidents prompt call to reduce number of needles found

Traffic logistics for Lansdowne Road closure

Public Works talks alternative routes for 2.5 month closure of major transportation artery

Boat capsizes in Caddy Bay

Two members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club Race Team spent part… Continue reading

Oak Bay showcases non-profits and more with inaugural volunteer fair

The Oak Bay Volunteer fair runs Jan. 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Monterey Recreation Centre

Dozens rally outside Premier’s office for sick Sooke boy

Six-year-old Landen Lanthier needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Oak Bay showcases non-profits and more with inaugural volunteer fair

The Oak Bay Volunteer fair runs Jan. 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Monterey Recreation Centre

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Jan. 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read