Mounted Police Learn New Skills

Whether they're beginning riders or very comfortable in the saddle, some coast law enforcement officers say they all have room to grow when it comes to their horse riding skills. This week, mounted patrols from two departments are taking part in training exercises at the Harrison County Fairgrounds.

Stop. Turn. Go forward. Simple instructions but some law enforcement officers say not so easy when working with horses.

Harrison County deputy sheriff Craig Necaise is still learning to ride.

"More complicated than I thought coming in. What is surprising is that after riding for eight hours a day, for this many days, you start to learn that the horse can sense how you feel. "

"If you're nervous, the horse feels you're nervous. That's why it's important to boost your confidence."

Harrison County Sheriff's deputies and Waveland Police officers are sharpening their skills with help from the experts at Mounted Police Training Systems.

"We look to improve their equestrian skills," said Jim McRitchie of Mounted Training Inc. "How to ride a horse. We want that horse to be able to walk, trot, stop and then we start to teach that horse and that rider to do what we call, lateral work. "

Also there were instructors-in-training who will take the lessons back to their fellow officers.

Jerry Cook is with the Waveland Police Department.

"It's in house training. We're not going to discount sending them to other schools, but it will give them a foundation, a base to grow off of."

Officers say from crowd control at festivals and parades, to search and rescue in rugged terrain, being in the saddle has advantages.

"You're up higher," said Sheryl Lowman. "You can see further in the crowd. You can get somewhere with the horses that you can't get with cars, especially if there is a lot of congestion and traffic."

Officials say most of the participants in this week's training class will take part in a search by Texas Ecosearch for Brandi Laurent. The Hancock County woman has been missing since early August. That search will be this Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m.