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What do your horses eat?

Our horses eat hay and grain at regularly scheduled meal times, and also have supplemental hay when deployed on patrol. Whether at the stable or on the street, our horses also have an abundant supply of water. All of our horses enjoy occasional treats such as carrots, apples, and peppermints.


Where do you keep your horses?

Our horses are stabled at a private boarding facility in Afton. Each horse has access to private stalls and exterior paddocks. Once we groom our horses and load them into the trailer, it only takes us 30 minutes to arrive in the City of Saint Paul. 


Do your horses bite?

Our horses, like all horses, are herd animals and can occasionally bite each other. We discourage this behavior as much as possible. Our horses generally do not bite humans with the intent of inflicting harm, but they can mistake body parts like fingers and hair for possible food. Please ask us for permission to pet our horses, and remember not to put your hands near the horse's mouth without prior approval.


How do horses react to hot and cold weather?

Our horses, especially the drafts, develop thick winter coats which allow them to remain warm during cold months. Horses have a more difficult time coping with the heat and humidity. By making sure they have an adequate diet much of the effects of heat can be mitigated. During especially hot days when the temperature and dew point reach dangerous levels, we cool off our horses with fans and cold water showers.


How long do horses live?

While life expectancy varies with breed, horses generally live around 25-30 years.


Do you clean up the horse droppings?

By law we are not required to clean up after our horses while on patrol. However, we do make every attempt to clean up when the droppings fall in unwanted areas such as sidewalks, private driveways and yards, crosswalks, and in front of eating establishments. If a citizen requests that we clean up droppings, we make every attempt to do so. Horse dung has no protein in it, and is primarily made up of hay, grain, and water. Droppings decompose very quickly.


How is the height of a horse measured?

A horse is measured from the ground to its withers (at the base of the neck). The unit of measurement is called a hand, which is equal to 4 inches. Measurement by this means was first recorded in ancient Egypt.


Are your horses male or female?

We generally utilize geldings as police horses. Geldings are males that are unable to reproduce. Geldings generally have more even temperaments than other horses.

Can we pet your horses?

Provided that we are not engaged in a police activity such as a traffic stop, custodial arrest or response to a crime problem we encourage you to come and say hello to us and our mounts. Please be sure to ask for permission before petting our horses. Also, never approach a horse from the rear. If the horse is startled, it may kick with its powerful hind legs and cause serious injury to bystanders.

Have your horses always been police horses? Do they ever "retire"?

It is a relatively extensive process in determining whether a horse is fit to be a police horse, with consideration given to anatomical, physiological, and personality evaluation. Most horses are several years old and "green broke" before being considered. There is no set time period for their utilization as police horses, but when a horse appears ready to retire we find a good home for him.

Who owns the horses?

The city of Saint Paul owns the horses.

Why do your horses wear those bands around their legs while on patrol?

Those bands are simply a reflective Velcro fabric that acts as a visibility safety feature while working in and around traffic. They do not constrict the horse's legs, and are not equine leg wraps.

Do you take care of your horses?

While the staff at our stable does an excellent job of maintaining stalls, paddocks, and providing adequate shelter, food, and water, we take great pride in caring for our horses. Our horses are groomed by their riders every day they work. We monitor them for any ailments, and make sure they receive top-notch veterinary and farrier care. When we are on the streets of Saint Paul, we always make sure that we have a good supply of hay and water. Bottom line: If we take care of our horses, they will take care of us.

How often do you train your horses?

Our horses (and riders!) are in constant training. While we do hold formal training, being on the streets of Saint Paul every day presents many opportunities for enhancement of skills. Horses, being prey animals, have a strong flight response. Sights, sounds, smells, tactile experiences...all of them can induce a horse to "spook". We take sensory training as seriously as we do equitation and horsemanship.

How many mounted units are in the state of Minnesota?

There are two mounted units consisting of sworn police officers and maintained by municipal departments. They are Saint Paul & Minneapolis in Minnesota.

In addition to these units, there are county-based "posses" that operate under the auspices of respective sheriff's offices throughout the state. The Minnesota Mounted Posse Association facilitates inter-agency communication and networking.

Why do you have draft horses? Do they make good police horses?

Draft horses were originally bred to serve as war horses. They would haul the machinery of war to the battlefield. They also served, and still serve, as implements of husbandry. Amish farmers often use drafts to haul plows and carts. Drafts also moved heavy loads, from trains being loaded on tracks to timber felled in remote forests. While their size is certainly a testament to their past, their demeanor is really what separates them from other breeds. All of this hard labor seems to have imparted a calmness that lends itself as a major advantage for the police horse. 

The size of the draft exudes intimidation, which can be useful in crowd control and enforcement situations. Conversely, size can also endear people to these animals in community outreach situations. People seem drawn to them. The calm demeanor of the draft breeds naturally lends to the overall fitness of a horse to deal with the sometimes chaotic environments of police work. While hot bloods (such as thoroughbreds) and warm bloods (such as quarter horses) may "spook" at certain situations, the draft seems well positioned to be less affected by similar stimuli.

Having the draft horse bred with a smaller breed, can keep the horse at a smaller and more athletic size, while maintaining that quiet work mentality.

I'm having an event and would like to request the Mounted Unit. Who do I contact?

Please contact Randy Sparling at for more information.

I'd like to support the Saint Paul Police Mounted Patrol Foundation. How can I help?

There are many ways to show your support. Let city government officials know that you appreciate this service that the police department provides. "Like" us on Facebook.

Purchase our merchandise online or at our Foundation events. Volunteer at some of our events. Become a donor and directly impact the work we do every day.

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Clean Up of Horse Droppings
During their patrols in the City, the horses will often deposit manure.  The officers seek to clean up after their horses, but if you are concerned that adequate clean-up has not occurred, please consider contacting Sergeant Valarie Namen (the officer who supervises the Mounted Unit) at (651) 266-5798 to let her know the location that needs attention.