Asbury sells out
Record number of police horses bought before annual event
By Fiona Morgan
For The Jessamine Journal
As Asbury University’s equine department continues to grow, more police departments are requesting to buy horses from its Service Mounts program which recently sold a record number of horses at the National Mounted Police Colloquium.
In fact, Asbury had placed or sold all nine horses before the colloquium even started. Held Sept. 23 to 27, Asbury sold nine horses to police departments all over North America.
The Service Mounts program at Asbury is the only student-led police horse training program in the country. Wilmore Mayor and director of equine studies Harold Rainwater runs the program where students take horses through roughly three years of training before selling them.
Held at the Kentucky Horse Park, the annual colloquium attracts 100 police officers from roughly 30 departments across North America, from Vancouver, Canada, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event serves as continuing education for officers and their horses and allows Asbury and other farms to showcase their horses.
Asbury’s equine department also held an open house Sept. 26 for police departments to look at the horses for sale. However, when told about the open house, some departments decided to come before the colloquium started to get first pick on the horses. The horses will go to their respective departments (which include Atlanta, Detroit and Vancouver) after they’ve completed training in early May 2020.
The horses sell for $10,000 each, and the money goes to cover costs for Asbury’s equine department.
Rainwater began the Service Mounts program in 2001 when the equine department was just starting out. “We were looking for something that students could do that you could sort of measure the success of training and working a horse,” Rainwater said.
Rainwater also said the program picked up significantly in the past five years and now employs internationally-known trainer Jesse Westfall. Westfall lives in Ohio and teaches training courses at Asbury on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Roughly 40 out of the 100 students in the equine major are part of the Service Mounts program.
Student leader of the program, senior and equine major Clara Quade has trained a horse named Killian for two years. He was sold to the Vancouver department just before the colloquium.
“[Killian] came in as this little 6-month-old, did not trust people, did not trust me [and] had a bit of an attitude,” Quade said.
The first year of training includes mainly desensitization work. “We get them used to weird and crazy sights and smells and sounds, so that when they go out on the streets they’ll be able to handle whatever comes their way,” Quade said.