The character, Sgt. Preston, was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and he, his horse Rex and his dog King, always got their man.
As kids back then, we loved the defenders of the law, the mounted police we called “Mounties.” These Mounties – in their bright red tunics, midnight blue pants, and their campaign hats –sat atop beautiful horses and totally captured our imaginations.
But kids back then weren’t the only ones who were impressed with Mounties.
Law enforcement in the United States and other countries watched the Mounties, those extraordinary individuals who brought law and order to the vast western territories of Canada – a job that seemed impossible on foot or in a vehicle.
Stories of high values, heroism and guarding the law became synonymous with Mounties.
Soon, mounted police units began springing up all over the world.
Today, mounted police can be found in different “vast territories” known as municipalities.
In Texas, mounted police units are established in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock and Dallas.
The latter is where Teresa Lucich of Refugio trained seven weeks to be one of two mounted police in Corpus Christi’s first ever mounted police unit.
The mounted police unit in Corpus Christi is the city’s first such unit.
Lucich, who lives on a ranch in northern Refugio County with her husband Ron, who owns Tejas Barbecue in Refugio, said her mounted police training was from July 22 through Aug. 30.
She was already a police officer with the Corpus Christi Police Department.
“The training was with the Dallas Mounted Patrol in Fair Park, behind the Cotton Bowl,” she said.
“It was roughly four hours of bareback,” she added.
Riding bareback, she went through an obstacle course – first at a trot and then at a canter.
“What we went through was the same training as the Dallas Mounted Police,” she said.
At first, Lucich trained on draft cross horses, which are bigger horses. She said riding on them was rough on the back and behind.
“I just got bad blisters on my hands. I had to really rein him in to tuck his head,” she said.
Every day at 6 a.m., Lucich and other trainees would get up and work with the horses till 2 p.m. Then they would groom the horse, wash and walk them to dry them, feed them and put them up.
The training, she said, was preparing rider and horse for athletic movement.
“It’s not western riding where they learned this from – it was from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It’s more like dressage,” she said.
Lucich said they had helpers who would clean the stalls.
After bareback training ended, Lucich rode her horse, Lady, for the final two weeks, including a seventh week of field training.
Lady, a quarter horse, endured fireworks, bales of hay on fire and billowing smoke.
“We did different things to where our horses wouldn’t react, plus we shot a gun while mounted – blanks – to the right and to the left,” she said.
“My horse did really well. She’s pretty calm. The trainers were surprised,” Lucich added.
The last part of the training involved maneuvers to hone the muscle memory of rider and horse.
Lucich said sudden movements then become more instinctive for the horse and rider.
The training ended with a written test and riding exam.
The written test had 59 questions, and Lucich scored 100 on it.
She made a 94 on the riding exam, which involved 18 different maneuvers.
The two exams were averaged for a final score. A perfect score was 116.
Lucich and her partner Chris Lynch passed the tests. And their horses were given police badges, becoming the first horses to belong to the Corpus Christi Police Department.
Now, the city of Corpus Christi is purchasing a horse trailer, but Lucich said she will let Lynch use it because she has one to use.
“My goal is to have the city be able to provide stables and horses,” Lucich said.
She said Police Chief Floyd Simpson wants to add two more to the mounted police.
“But I don’t know when that is going to happen,” she said.
For now, with new police badges, the mounted patrol appeared in downtown Corpus Christi and on North Beach.
Lucich said the plan is to patrol the beach during spring break and at the malls during holidays. She added that the patrol would be used during events like the breast cancer run, Palmer Drug Abuse walk at Cole Park and other crowd events.
The usual uniform will be jeans and cowboy hats. However, the formal uniform is more along the lines of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police formal uniform, said Lucich.
And formal occasions always arise, said the 14-year veteran of the Corpus Christi police force.