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

Potential statue slated for Oak Bay beach draws early criticism

A $50k donation from a 96 year old resident said to fund the project

Added webcams give drivers more views of Malahat and highway to Sooke

Five new DriveBC webcams installed in high traffic locations on Vancouver Island

Greater Victoria rugby players named to national Hall of Fame

Former Canada captains, Oak Bay’s Mark Wyatt and Victoria’s Hans De Goede to inducted this spring

Colwood applies for $325k to replace stairs in Latoria Creek Park

More than 200 residents sign petition to support grant application

Victoria boxer gets second chance after provincials

Fighter looks to win ‘box-offs,’ take spot at nationals

WATCH: Midnight mall break-in targets cash in donation bin

Thieves break-and-enter Tillicum shopping mall at 2 a.m.

UPDATE: Trees affecting travel at Comox Airport have been trimmed

Some YQQ flights have been rerouted or cancelled due to some trees impacting the safety margins

POLL: Do you support a speculation tax on vacant homes in Greater Victoria?

Homeowners have begun to receive letters asking if they should be exempt… Continue reading

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read