Pixel Tracker

Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 3:25 pm | Fair with Haze 67º


California Mounted Officers Association, County Sheriff’s Riders Train at Santa Barbara Fairgrounds

Law enforcement officers and their horses saddle up for a week of training at Earl Warren Showgrounds


A California Mounted Officers Association instructor placed a smoke bomb on the ground, lighted the fuse and it began spewing out bright orange smoke.

Some horses trotting around Santa Barbara's Earl Warren Showgrounds barely flinched while others were spooked and reluctant to move close.

The mounted unit officers stayed relaxed, and their four-legged teammates continued circling the arena.

The instructor lit another smoke bomb — this time it was closer to the group. 

The exercise was part of an extensive five-day, 40-hour training, getting the horses skilled and the riders state-certified to work. 

CMOA is approved for mounted patrol officers by the Police Officers Standards and Training — the commission that standardizes all California law enforcement training.

Seventy riders saddled up preparing their horses for the instruction this week.

“Horses learn by repetition,” said Rob Dawson, California Mounted Officers Association president and Santa Monica Police Department officer.

“We are introducing the horses to something that traditionally they would run away. We are trying to duplicate scenarios that would happen in real life. ”

The officers learn how to handle their horse properly, tackle obstacle courses, and patrol tactics on horseback. Instructors shot off fireworks to desensitize them to sudden, loud noises. 

“We want to get the rider and their horses acclimated to anything they may encounter,” said Eric Anderson, the class coordinated for the basic mounted patrol course and an Anaheim Police Department officer.

Anderson said horses are fight-or-flight response animals, meaning a simple object such as a plastic bag could be perceived as harmful.

Desensitization training builds both rider and horse confidence, he said.

“The relationship between the horse and the riders is about trust,” Anderson said.

A handful of Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Mounted Enforcement Unit officers participated in the training at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Wednesday. Click to view larger
A handful of Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Mounted Enforcement Unit officers participated in the training at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Wednesday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The mounted unit has advantages other officers don’t, including height and added visibility.

The massive horses have also been successful in connecting with the public.

“People love animals,” Anderson said. “Especially now, with the negative light on law enforcement — a mounted unit is a positive perception and it’s a good positive tool to engage with the community.”

Fifteen agencies from across the California participated in the training, with agencies from Anaheim, Riverside to Sacramento and everywhere between.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office reached out to CMOA to host the mounted enforcement training in Santa Barbara.

It was the first time CMOA practiced in Santa Barbara.

The Sheriff’s Mounted Enforcement Unit specializes in crowd control, patrolling the county parks and has been seen representing the Sheriff’s Office at the El Desfile Histórico Parade for Old Spanish Days and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

“Law enforcement on horseback is a great way to interact with people and break down the stigma that law enforcement may have,” Lt. Erik Raney said. “The deputies on the team have other primary assignments. This is an additional duty.”  

Raney thanked the Earl Warren Showgrounds for accommodating the Sheriff’s Mounted Enforcement Unit and for allowing the officers train at the facility this week.

The 34-acre property is host to the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Seventy mounted unit officers trained at the Earl Warren Showgrounds this week. Click to view larger
Seventy mounted unit officers trained at the Earl Warren Showgrounds this week. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >