Skip to main content

New option for retired RCMP Musical Ride horses generates Canada-wide interest


When it comes to the RCMP Musical Ride, there’s no denying its significance in Canada’s legacy and now, RCMP are giving Canadians a chance to own these retired athletes.

“The main priority of the program is identifying the best possible home, based on the specific needs, physical limitations or health conditions of each divested horse,” said Staff Sargent Mario Cournoyer. “The obvious benefit is to receive a free horse, but the main benefit is for the horse, the animal itself, which is to find the best home and proper care taker for the rest of their lives.”

For more than 30 years, the Musical Ride could only donate surplus horses to charities, non-profit organizations, or other levels of government, and while that is still an option, a 2022 policy change also opened up applications to the general public for the first time ever.

Couroyer says these horses could be made available due to age, medical conditions, or physical limitations, or if they cannot be sold at auction for various reasons.

The program was made public Wednesday morning and by Thursday morning, applications had to be closed.

“We were a little caught by surprise to tell you the truth,” he said. “We received a very overwhelming, positive response from horse lovers. Which is nice, this is awesome, but at the same time, number wise, we received over 1,000 applications.”

As for types of homes, Couroyer says they’re considering everything from small backyard barns to established equestrian centres, adding that it will come down to what each horse needs.

“If we have a younger horse that has an injury that can’t be a part of the musical ride and as a result is being divested, that horse perhaps needs to move and keep exercising, so for that horse we’d be looking for a family or an organization that can provide that kind of training to the horse,” he said. “Whereas, if we have an old horse that only needs to be taken out and back in on a daily bases, green pastures because of their age and cannot be ridden, then we’d be looking mostly for a small family who would see that horse as a pet.”

By Thursday evening, social media posts about the program received just under 3,000 reactions, more than 2,000 comments, and 21,000 shares.

However, taking on a horse isn’t as easy as just becoming a successful candidate.

Michelle Bourque is pictured. (Alana Pickrell/CTV Atlantic)Michelle Bourque started riding when she was 10-years-old and now runs Spring Brook Stables in New Brunswick, a full time horse boarding facility, and is the owner of Maritime Saddle & Tack.

She says horses are a 24-hour, 365 day commitment.

“No matter what, you have to go out in the cold weather, whether you’re feeling well or not. Look after the horses. Make sure they have fresh water. It’s not frozen water. They have lots of hay, lots of grain.”

On top of a time commitment, she also points out that they come with a huge financial commitment.

“Any boarding facility would be a minimum of $500 to $700 here in the Maritimes. The cost of hay, you can count on at least a bale to two bales a day per horse. Grain can run you anywhere from $30-to-$50 a bag,” she said, adding that that doesn’t include vet bills, regular farrier work, supplements or extras like chiropractic work or therapeutic products.

“I would definitely say make sure you have some funds in your bank account because looking after horses is an adventure that’s going to come out of your pocketbook for sure. Horses are not cheap, but they’re loving, caring animals and they’re very therapeutic.”

Despite the responsibility that undoubtedly comes with horse ownership, Bourque definitely recommends it to people as long as they are prepared for what they’re getting into.

“I think it would be a privilege, really, to have one of these horses. They’re very well bred. I just think the best thing is to find the best home for them. Lots of love, care and attention,” she said. “I also think anyone who gets them, if they’re going to be at home, I would like to see that they have a horse to keep as a companion. If they’re rideable, it’d be nice if you spend time with the horse and they’re groomed regularly and they get lots of attention and love.”

RCMP says there is a thorough vetting process for applicants that looks into previous experience both with taking care of horses and riding them, the facility, and their intentions with the horse if they are selected.

They also require a site visit and references as part of the selection process.

“It’s important to know that an independent selection committee will make the final recommendation to who might receive a horse from this program,” said Cournoyer.

He adds that despite the huge interest across Canada, it’s an exclusive program with only one or two horses expected to be available year each.

“It brings joy to know that any divested horse, will find a good family to spend the rest of their days,” he said. Top Stories

Stay Connected