On August 12, 2021, the Inspector-General-of-Police (IGP) announced the introduction of Horse-Patrol operations in the Ghana Police Service to support foot, motor-bicycle, and vehicle patrols.
It is also to strengthen the fight against crime by prevention and detection, as well as boost police visibility.
Following this development, a question asked has been: Are horses safe/unsafe to operate in close proximity to humans in cities?
Before answering that, I will share my personal experience with a horse.
The IGPâ€™s move brought back memories of Majestic, my parade-horse. On January 7, 2000, I commanded Ghanaâ€™s Millennium-Parade at the Black Star/Independence-Square from the back of Majestic.
For many years, Majestic majestically dominated Independence-Square parades as Ghanaâ€™s foremost parade-horse.
Introducing the majestic stallion, Majestic, to me as my parade-horse when I commenced training in early December 1999 for the Millennium-Parade a month away, my riding instructor, a tough soldier told me : â€œSir, Majestic is a very proud horse. You either ride him, or he will ride you!â€
He recounted instances Majestic had messed up parade commanders in earlier years.
With this advice/warning, I gave my instructor a blank-cheque to do anything to me to ensure a successful parade!
Soon, the strenuous killer horsemanship training he subjected me to, made me regret my decision. But he toughened me as I lost five kilograms in a month.
Majestic and I soon developed mutual respect for our individual abilities. Having discovered that Majestic had a sweet-tooth, I started my day with him at 6 a.m. by giving him sugar which he happily licked from my palm.
Thereafter my instructor and I on our horses would go to our grassland training area between Burma Camp, Teshie and the Kpeshie-Lagoon.
Today, the whole area is populated with buildings!
Fear of snakes
An early lesson I learnt the hard way was that, like many humans, horses fear snakes. While training one morning, a snake glided across us.
With his mouth wide opened and head in the sky on seeing the snake, Majestic turned back and took off straight for the stables some three kilometres away.
That day, I understood practically the theory we were taught in physics at school about what â€œhorsepowerâ€ meant.
With a horseâ€™s strength of more than 10 humans combined, I could not stop him from speeding straight to the stables.
Bad as I thought the snake experience was, it was to prove beneficial later.
During the rehearsals at Independence-Square, I warned the Information Services/GBC journalists not to bring any cable close to me as Majestic would take it for a snake.
Unfortunately, on the D-Day, 7 January 2000, a gentleman came out of an Information Services vehicle with a roll of cable.
Anticipating he was going to throw it in my direction, I quickly jerked Majesticâ€™s head 45 degrees in the opposite direction which he did not understand.
When he saw the cable thrown, Majestic reared on its hind legs and attempted to take off to his favourite destination, the beach behind the Independence Square.
My anticipation paid off when he only succeeded in bringing me to my original position, at great cost to my left hand, my sword being in the right.
Until my close encounter with Majestic, I did not know that, like dogs, horses have a strong sense of smell, though to a lesser degree.
My instructor told me they could tell when I was about two kilometres away from the stable every morning.
On picking my scent, an excited Majestic would start flapping his ears knowing his sugar would soon arrive.
Just before I mounted him on January 7, 2000, I put my arms around his neck/mane and told him â€œMajestic, today is our final day. Be a good boy and letâ€™s have a good parade!â€
To my surprise, Majestic nodded in acknowledgement. Three hours later, Majestic and I walked off the Independence-Square tired, but contented with ourselves.
Majestic and I remained friends until he died of old age at 30, which, translated into human age, is between 85-90 years. Like dogs, horses can be very loving and affectionate.
When approached from the rear, horses sense danger of being attacked. Their hind legs can be a dangerous/fatal weapon when they kick, considering their immense strength.
One must, therefore, always approach a horse from the front, and never from the rear, for safety.
Fellow Ghanaians, if animals like Majestic/dogs can be so loving, why do we humans treat one another with so much disrespect/hatred/cruelty? Make peace!
To the IGP, well done for the initiative of Horse-Patrols. Ghana Police, all the best! Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra.