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

Property registration crucial for Oak Bay’s deer contraception program

Got deer? Want them gone? Do your part, register your property!

Active senior celebrates 100 years with fanfare at Oak Bay manor

An inspiring Oak Bay senior marked a milestone Tuesday. Marion Devitt, known… Continue reading

Saanich sponsors Jeux de la Francophonie giving $50,000 for the French-language Games

Couns. Susan Brice and Nathalie Chambers opposed funding, citing substantive and procedural concerns

Port Renfrew man charged with animal cruelty

Hot coffee poured on dog’s face, say police

VicPD arrest reportedly armed man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

The man was found near Centennial Square on Tuesday afternoon

VIDEO: Black bear caught climbing tree in Langford neighbourhood

Triangle Mountain residents on alert following bear sighting

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Most Read