Bouncing Yoga Balls off Horses

Our new home has a surprising view considering our urban/industrial location. We overlook the Willamette River, the Fremont Bridge, and the mounted police training facility and stables.

When we moved into our new apartment, we figured we would enjoy the horses, but we’ve become absolutely riveted. The training that the horses and their riders go through is fascinating, to say the least.

Pictured above was “Fire Day”, where the trainers ignited flames in burn barrels and conducted mock protests with the horses in formation. They then lit a line of fuel on fire between the barrels and had the horses walk through the smoke and the small blaze. If you click on a photo, you can just make out the line of fire under the horses.

We first learned of the “protest training,” when I found that my recreational reading was being interrupted by rhythmic chanting coming outside. I thought maybe some gung-ho exercise class was on their way to the esplanade for a run. To investigate, I got off my ass and poked my head toward the window, only to discover instead that Portland’s finest were holding signs and screaming chants at horses with riders. They did the mock demonstration up right with banner signs, picket signs, people running toward the horses, megaphones, etc.

They throw every obstacle they can think of at these horses. We’ve observed them practice swinging their night stick within the peripheral vision of the horse, so their equine partner is not startled by the motion. They run the stick along the horse, they wave it slowly, increasing the speed over time. The horses do not flinch.

One day, they had various protest obstacles set up, and the mounted unit had to walk through the tight course in formation with picketers screaming. Another time, we even saw a horse and rider holding still while a trainer threw a yoga ball quite hard at the horse, repetitively, from every position around the steed. Interestingly enough, this was one of the few exercises where the horse wavered, but he never broke out of his stance.

We have enjoyed getting to know the 7 horses who live next door. We know which ones like to roll around in the dirt, we are forever commenting on the the black gelding and white gelding’s battle for herd supremacy, we smile when they argue over which one gets to bite and play with the orange caution cone in the riding ring, and there is nothing more engaging than seeing them at a full gallop, sans mounts, playing, nipping, and bucking.

We have the best view in Portland.

Leave a Reply