Saturday, October 8, 2011

LAPD Mounted Platoon 10-8-11

The annual LAPD Mounted Platoon fund raiser ride, that I decided to attend just to get a feel for what the people who do mounted police work are like. Everyone I met was very pleasant, and I am sorry there is no opportunity for me to volunteer with a similar organization in my area. I donated a $100 gift cerTATficate to the silent auction, and had a lovely lunch afterwards. Tobe was the only mule in attendance.

Length: 14.3 miles
Duration: 5.5 hours
Difficulty: Very easy riding. In deference to the fact that there were 100 riders in the group the trails were all on either asphalt or dirt roads traversing Griffith Park in the mountains just above Hollywood. Good for conversation, not challenging. 
Altitude gain: 1750 ft 
Grade: I

View Griffith Park 10-8-11 in a larger map

 We met up at the LAPD Mounted Platoon headquarters on the edge of the LA River, bordering Griffith Park.
 The first order of the day was a briefing, introduction of dignitaries, and description of the ride. Then we walked out on city streets with heavy escort and prepared to enter the park.
First, up and over a freeway overpass, over the LA River and  the 405, with both water and cars rushing beneath us and eedjits honking at the sight of horses above.
There I am between two men who turned out to be high ranking captains of their respective divisions. It was a real pleasure to meet them, and have enthusiasm for equines as common ground.
 We headed up into the park, and 100 people is a very big group, a long line of slowly moving animals and fine for conversations. Everyone I met, from commanders to captains on down to mounted officers who regularly work the streets on horseback, was a well-spoken and interesting individual. It did my heart good to have a day spent in the company of people who take great pride in what they do, an image of police not often presented in the media.
 Looking out into the smog, the towers of downtown Los Angeles.
 The first sight of Griffith Park Observatory, familiar to millions as the place James Dean played chicken in "Rebel Without a Cause."
 Going into a massive tunnel, the sound of all those hooves was a bit deafening. Good de-spooking!
 Coming out of the tunnel, a beautiful crepe myrtle tree in bloom.
 We stopped frequently to let out of condition horses catch their breath. Tobe got a lot of interest as the only representative of his kind, and he behaved well.
In fact, we both had a nice time and Tobe is quite stoic about whatever I ask him to do. In this photo he looks like he is pulling a wagon, leaning into the job. I look like I'm sitting in an easy chair, a pretty accurate indication of who is doing all the work on rides.
 But I could tell he was seriously bored. Coming off of our technical trails triumph on Catalina this was just going for a walk in the park. On roads. But he humors me and goes where I ask him.
 This was the photo I was so looking forward to taking, and unfortunately this was as close as we got to the famous HOLLYWOOD sign. I had suggested to the parade organizers that they arrange to have an equine event photographer document the ride, and set up in a place where people could pose with the sign in the background. That didn't happen, but I did think people would have liked the opportunity to get souvenir photos to show they had ridden in this famous place. We would have had to go on a different route to make that possible.
 From the highest vantage point, looking out over Glendale and seeing the smog of LA wafting in from the right.
 Looking out over the central downtown Los Angeles section, and that speck in the central horizon is a helicopter that came up from the downtown LAPD division and buzzed us, squawking the intercom. I thought it a bit reckless with that many skittish horses up there on a mountaintop, with steep drop-offs at the trail edges, but hey, cop humor or rivalry between divisions I guess.
 Then on the way back down an elderly man who was diabetic passed out in the saddle. Fortunately quick thinking people caught him before he fell, and he was administered some trail mix bars and gatorade. If you are going to have a medical emergency on the trail you probably couldn't have chosen a more capable group! Later we saw him at lunch and he looked just fine.
The last act was crossing over the LA River to get back to the Mounted Platoon stables. The river was rather swift flowing from rainfall 3 days before. The slick concrete was a bit of a challenge, but we bunched up the animals and there were no problems. There we are in the middle, setting a good example of wearing a helmet!
Another interesting day of asking Tobe to do something we hadn't done before, meet lots of people and animals, and look out over the smoggy city of Los Angeles and be glad we live in Santa Barbara, and head home tired and happy.