Columbus Police horses train with firecrackers and pool noodles before big night at BOOM!

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – With two days until Red, White & BOOM!, the Columbus Mounted Unit is preparing its horses for big crowds and loud noises at the event.

“We’re sensitizing the horses to what they may run into,” Sergeant Robert Forsythe said. “The loud noises, the fireworks, the bangs, the booms. Anything that’s going to get them maybe uppity.”

Forsythe heads up the Mounted Unit for the Columbus Division of Police. Six other officers and ten horses make up the rest of the unit.

“They’re downtown almost every day,” Forsythe said of the horses. “They’re around people all the time. They’re around loud noises all the time. We expect them to respond well.”

HORSES TRAINING 2Two days of training continued Wednesday in the parking lot at MAPFRE Stadium. The horses faced small crowds of people throwing balls and pool noodles, setting off firecrackers and yelling.

“It’s just preparation to get them ready to go and to hopefully keep them from overreacting to anything,” Forsythe said.

There were also children present at the training.

“The horses are around kids downtown,” Forsythe said. “They like to come up and pet the horses, so we like the horses to see them come up there, be familiar with them, not get spooked when they come running up. Kids like to throw things up in the air, the little poppers, things like that, so we kind of simulate that here in this environment to prevent anything from happening.”

Forsythe said people attending the event or any event where there are horses should always ask the mounted officers if it’s OK to pet the horses.

“That way, the officers know that you’re coming up there, they see it, they’re ready for it,” Forsythe said. “There are times when the officer will say, ‘Not right now.’ Unfortunately, we might have to move quickly. We don’t want anybody in front of us in case we have to move quickly. So it’s always just a good idea to ask the officer, ‘Is it OK to pet your horse?’ It’s usually never a problem.”

Forsythe said he has never seen one of CPD’s horses get spooked at Red, White & BOOM!. He also noted that there will be 20 or 25 horses at the event, since other agencies with mounted units will also be present.

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