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PASADENA — Cowboy, a Quarter Horse gelding his trainer calls the best kind of horse you’ll ever find, has left his 18-year career as a Los Angeles Police Department Mounted Patrol horse to begin a new venture at a therapeutic riding program.

He was one of 32 horses in the mounted unit in the Metropolitan Division of the LAPD, a serious law enforcement group that primarily works in large crowds, dignitary protection and the issuance of search warrants. He joins another recent LAPD retiree, Shadow, at the MACH 1: Moving A Child Higher program, where he’ll soak up the attention of affectionate youngsters who are overcoming disabilities. He’ll eventually be part of a Wounded Warrior program, too, where he’ll help re-acclimate veterans into society.

Cowboy, retired LAPD

Cowboy, retired LAPD

KCAL9 photo

 

“He’s a very exceptional horse,” said officer Joe Willey, a 25-year veteran who has been on the mounted unit 20 years – the last 11 as head trainer.”Dead-broke. Quiet. And tested in the field.”
The 18-year veteran has literally carried officers through high crime areas in Venice Beach, Hollywood and Skid Row. When a Laker celebration turned violent and cars were flipped, Cowboy was there, on duty. His even temperament and patient mind earned him selection as one of Willey’s instruction horses for recruits, who have no experience.

“They don’t know how to ride – they’re just good policemen,” said Willey, who trains recruits in an intensive four-week school. “We need good horses, what you call a school horse, to be able to kind of like tolerate a person who doesn’t really know what they’re doing.”

Among his duties, Cowboy served several times in protection detail of U.S. Presidents visiting the city, but Willey said he recently had aged past the point of such assignments. Willey enjoyed Cowboy, and he believes Cowboy enjoyed being on the LAPD.

“I always say to people, if you die and come back as a horse, you want to come back as an LAPD horse,” Willey said. “The care is exceptional.” Like the horses themselves.

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