Horsing Around

Over my career as a cop, there have been a number of unusual moments, but very few of them involved a horse.

There was this one time…

It was a swelteringly hot summer night made worse by a continuous, heavy downpour. The team I was overseeing for that midnight shift and I were detailed to relieve another squad at a demonstration. During the course of the proceeding shift, the number of protesters had multiplied exponentially. A few had become quite unruly, resulting in shop windows being smashed and the stores being vandalized, a few cars being set on fire, numerous people being assaulted, and lots of people being arrested.

Mayhem ensued.

The 3-foot high concrete barriers with 6-foot fences attached that had previously been brought in to keep the designated area secure were increasingly of little use as the numbers of protesters swelled.

We, meanwhile, were not swelling in numbers. In fact, we were seriously outnumbered by a very angry mob.

Officers from around the province were being bussed in. Unlike the lucky ones we relieved, many of our own officers who had worked in the blistering heat for the past 12 hours and were beyond exhausted were held back. Additional streets were being shut down, helicopters were flying overhead with their lights shining down on us, and the individuals the demonstrators were protesting against were being discreetly removed from the location.

And still, the rain poured down, the heat seemed to amplify, and the protesters who had remained were becoming increasingly violent. Their taunting and shrill whistles increased every time a burning bag of human excrement or a molotov cocktail was tossed across the roadway that separated us.

As their busses arrived and they were led in, eyes as wide as saucers, the officers from other jurisdictions were let inside the concrete barriers and high fences. My officers and I, meanwhile, remained on the outside of the wall. Instruction was given to those on the inside not to open the gate for any reason. Clearly, my officer and I got the short end of that stick.

And then, we all heard it: clip clop clip clop.

Three dozen horses, four-abreast, trotted along the street that separated the protesters and the protectors. With a command, the horses and their mounts broke off into a single file, lining up head to tail in front of me and my officers (to give you a sense of how big these animals are, imagine your eyes level with the knee of the rider).

I felt a mix of security and fear wash over me. Not an inch behind me was the wall with a gate that would not be opened for any reason. An equal distance in front of me was what I guessed to be a 2,000 pound horse who, should he decide to shift his weight, would surely crush me against that wall.

“Watch your feet!” the rider yelled down to me.

Expecting a projectile of some sort to have made its way across the street and between the horses legs, I jumped to my left.

“No. The other way,” the rider directed.

Too late. The horse had already peed. The splash of it had drenched my rain-soaked pant leg.

To this day, whenever I think of that night, regardless of anything else that may have happened, I always remember it as the time I was peed on by a horse.

Until next week, I’m 10-7 for shift.

Desmond Ryan – Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction

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