I never paid much attention to horses before I became a grandmother. But when you are searching for ways to entertain little ones you find yourself venturing out of your comfort zone into uncharted territory often. It helps if the territory includes free parking and shade for an afternoon nap which is why we spend so much time in Golden Gate Park and how we discovered the Fred C. Egan Memorial Police Stables.
The San Francisco Mounted Police Unit was founded in 1874, two years after the NYPD mounted unit. There was a time when every substation in San Francisco had horses. Imagine! But today there are fewer – just 13. And why do we need a mounted patrol? Large park areas, wooded terrain, picnic areas and beaches are all areas that horses can patrol better than motorized vehicles or foot officers. And, if you can remember the 60’s and 70’s in San Francisco you will recall seeing the horses used for crowd management during the anti-war protests.
But back to the barn/stable, a 1930‘s WPA building with corrals in back. There is one sergeant and eight officers. As you can see from the photos below, LG was interested in the horses but perhaps a bit skeptical.
But it did not take long for her to reach out (with Pa Pa’s help).
When we encounter the mounted patrol in other parts of the city the horses seem to ‘know’ her and the officers shout hello to her from the saddle.
They even have coloring books and honorary badge stickers for the children.
This Urbane Grandmother is grateful for the kindness of the officers who have taken time to encourage LG’s interest. It has fostered a love for horses which will last her a lifetime. In the meantime, I have come to respect and cherish horses for the gentle giants that they are. Time spent around a horse is time spent in peace.
By the way, this posting was prompted by ‘Lost San Francisco’ – a marvelous FB Page devoted to memories of old San Francisco in pictures, videos and shared stories. On January 2, 2014 they posted a photograph of SFPD Officer Jack Kelley and his horse, Pedro, circa 1936.
And here is a picture of the urbane grandchild from SFGate at the retirement ceremony for one of her favorite horses, Hammer. And more NBC Bay Area coverage here. There is a Police Horse Retirement Ranch in Sonoma. Won’t you consider a donation today?
Be sure to visit the San Francisco Police Mounted Unit ‘s FB page.