Summer of Awesome – RCMP Stables

Recently my two daughters have become obsessed with horses. They both claim that they want to learn to ride – no doubt they have images in their heads of their hair flowing in the wind as they race towards the sunset, bow and arrow in hand just like Merida in the film Brave.

I have to admit, I am pretty skeptical that their reaction to riding a real-life horse will be quite so dreamy.

So I thought I’d ease them into it by visiting the RCMP Stables. It’s where they train the horses for the Musical Ride, and I was hoping an up-close-and-personal encounter with an enormous, black horse would knock the request for riding lessons right out of ’em.

The stables are in Rockcliffe and are open every day in the summer from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is where they train and house the horses for the famous Musical Ride. During the summer, the 36 horses that are part of the Musical Ride are on tour, but there are still about 60 other horses in the stables – these are horses that have been retired from the ride, or young new horses who are just starting their training.

So the first thing you need to do when you get there is find the entrance, which (memo to the RCMP) is not very clearly marked. Here’s the building:

RCMP Stables Building

The entrance is the one on the far left hand end, behind the giant tree, that has a sign that says, “Lost and Found.” OF COURSE.

The door leads you straight into the gift shop (OF COURSE), and you have to go through the gift shop to get to the museum part. The museum is a few small rooms that talk about the history and function of the RCMP, and the details of the Musical Ride.

We learned about the RMCP’s bomb disposal unit:

Bomb Disposal Unit helmet

The kind of horses that are picked for the ride (must be almost all-black, 16 hands high):

Museum Display

And we saw the carriage that is used for visiting heads of state, including Will and Kate last year on Canada Day:

Will and Kate sat here!

There’s also a video playing with footage of the actual Musical Ride, if you’ve never had a chance to see it.

A tour leaves about once every half hour from the museum section and lasts about 20 minutes. You’ll get a chance to see the Musical Ride practice area:

Musical Ride rehearsal area

(This area is also open to the general public, you can come and watch them practicing which takes place most weekday mornings in the winter – call them for the schedule.)

You’ll see the tack room and the ferrier’s workshop:

Ferrier's Workshop

You’ll see horses (yay!):

Horse
RCMP Stables

You’ll learn about how they name the horses (did you know there’s a naming contest every year, in the spring?), how they choose the horses, and how the selected officers learn to ride.

Name Tags from Retired Horses

After the tour, you’re welcome to walk behind the stables where they have a training area. When we were there, two riders were working with a new young horse and we were allowed to watch if we were VERY quiet.

Training Area

Out front, two RCMP officers in full uniform allowed us to get up close and personal with the horses:

RCMP Officers

That was probably the best part. We were able to pet the horses, chat with the officers (SO NICE), and we learned a few extra details, like how they brush-in a maple leaf pattern on the the horses’ backsides before taking them out on rides. Cool.

I liked this visit because it felt like we were really learning something about Canada. We have, unfortunately, never actually seen the Musical Ride itself, so this was a great introduction. However, it was a pretty small place – we were able to cover the whole museum, the tour, and the visit with the officers in about an hour and a half. So it fits nicely in between naptimes, but if your kids are older, you can probably combine this visit with another event.

Also, word of warning: your secret plan to avoid riding lessons may backfire, and the budding love of horses may turn into full blown adoration. DAMMIT.

6 thoughts on “Summer of Awesome – RCMP Stables

  1. Carly

    Sounds like fun! We went to the Musical Ride with the boys for the first time this summer and they loved it. Especially the SkyHawks Parachute Team!

    1. The Musical Ride is definitely going on our list for next year. I always talk myself out of it as being too late – but visiting the stables has made them excited to see the actual ride and I think they are old enough now to handle it. It’s a must do!

      1. Carly

        I must admit that Jake was bored a bit by the end – when they did the actual ride – but overall it was a big hit. When he got restless, we just used the opportunity to walk around a bit. There are lots of RCMP staff to talk to, if you go when the SkyHawks are performing, they’ll show you how they pack their chutes after their dive and this year there was a teepee to explore. So all in all, a great night! 🙂

  2. Allison

    Hello Lynn,

    Just wanted to thank you for the great blog on the Stables. I actually am one of those ‘SO NICE’ (thanks) Mounties that was out in red serge. My friend found your blog while looking for tour hours. Your blog is great, I will share the signage concerns with the tour guide section, and thanks again for coming to visit us, petting our horses, and chatting with us.
    Please ensure you come back again, and check out next summer’s Sunset Ceremonies, a free show, the week leading up to Canada Day! 🙂

    ~Allison

    1. Hi Allison! It was SUPER nice meeting you and I really appreciate your patience and kindness to my kids. You do a fantastic job!

      We are definitely in for the Sunset ride next year. My kids can’t wait!

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