The trained men on horses who prevent thefts and crimes in the city belong to the Mounted Branch, which is a part of the city police. These men have an edge over others in controlling crimes with the help of the horses. “As the men are seated high on the horses they can easily spot a miscreant in a crowd,” says Balasubramanium, Deputy Commissioner, Mounted Branch.
Horses which are just three to four years old are purchased from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and brought here to be trained by qualified personnel. Soon after their arrival they are saddled and once they get accustomed to the training and the surroundings, they are taught to walk, trot and run. “This usually takes a month and slowly they are trained for word of command, such as walk, trot, canter, etc.,” says the DC.
Then they are prepared for mob operations. Every month they are checked by a certified veterinary doctor and personnel of the veterinary hospital, Vepery.
Once the training is complete, they are taken for beach patrolling. Policemen can be seen riding the animals as early as 5 a.m. on the sands of the Marina.
They help to regulate vehicles on the service road and clear the area for free movement of walkers. By 10 a.m. the horses are taken back to the stables, at the Commissioner Office, Egmore. Here they are fed, cleaned and their bodies are massaged for an hour.
Noon is their feeding time where they are served a healthy mix of crushed oats, wheat bran, horse gram, linseed, Bengal gram, carrot, shark liver oil and Hariyali hay.
“Being summer, they are given plenty of water, ” said the DC. By 4.30, hand rolling is done and they are made to walk after which they are taken back to the beach for patrolling up to 7 p.m.
There are about 34 horses with 27 personnel handling them. As in the other branches of the police department, here too women are included. R. Selvi and T. Easwari have put in seven years of service and D. Tilaka and K. Tamilselvi have been here for three years.
They help to prevent women from being caught on camera while swimming at the Marina, help in locating missing children and also assist their male counterparts in handling crowds on the beach which usually surge now (summer). They say: Women find it easy to approach us with their problems such as eve teasing, chain snatching and cyber crimes.
When enquired how they are treated by their male counterparts, they say, “We are happy and treated well by our colleagues and dealing these equines itself is a task and we have taken a liking to handling them.”
Once they give their willingness to join the branch they are given training for three months.
Initially, they are made to execute tasks such as walking, riding and massaging the animals. They are then taught to saddle, mount and ride them with ease. Still, they do face a lot of risk while dealing with the horses and feel that a small amount of risk allowance will help.
The branch is headed by the Commissioner of Police. The other personnel involved include Deputy Commissioner, Motor Transport, ACP, HQ, inspectors and an SI.
The strength is deployed for crowd control during festivals such as Vinayaka procession, Kaanum Pongal, trade fair and cricket matches. They are also used during the annual parades and ceremonies held in honour of VIPs.