IN KUALA Lumpur, it is no longer a rare sight to see members of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) mounted horse unit patrolling parks to ensure the public’s safety.
DBKL mounted horse unit commandant senior inspector Ram Talib Jani Mohammad said they were tasked with ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the public parks as well as the comfort of visitors.
“The mounted officers also enforce laws as stated in various Acts and DBKL’s by-laws.
“For example, they can issue summons to traffic offenders, take action against illegal traders as well as issue fines to those breaking the law,” he said during an interview with StarMetro
The unit was established on Feb 1, 1989 when Tan Sri Elyas Omar was Kuala Lumpur mayor.
The rider brushing off the sand on the hoof
However, the proposal to form the mounted horse unit was approved in 1987 by the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
To-date, there are 53 horses, 30 of which are kept at DBKL’s mounted horse unit’s stables at Taman Titiwangsa while the rest are kept at a stable in Bandar Tun Razak.
There are 15 public parks in Kuala Lumpur, and the unit conducts routine patrols at Tasik Titiwangsa, Taman Botani Perdana and Taman Tasik Permaisuri.
“However, we offer our help during events held at parks in Kuala Lumpur,” Ram Talib said.
“The mounted unit also helps attract tourists,” he said, adding that the unit has become a point of reference for other agencies as well as learning institutes such as Universiti Putra Malaysia.”
Ram Talib said the unit played a different role as compared to the Royal Malaysian Police mounted unit.
“Their role is to help prevent crimes in the city centre and residential areas while our jurisdiction is restricted to only public parks,” he said.
Getting ready for duty
The selection of horses is carried out by the advisory board for DBKL’s mounted unit.
“Before buying the horses, we identify the roles they need to play.
“For patrolling, we usually select tame horses that are slightly taller, tougher as well as well-built.
One of the riders sadding his horse.
“Our horses are mostly thoroughbreds or Australian Stock horses, while some are imported from Belgium.
“We have a mix of male and female horses but the male horses are gelded.
“The horses train six days a week and each has a specific routine and shift,” he said.
Usually, a horse is assigned to a rider but the riders help care for other horses as well, said Ram Talib, adding that the horses are groomed, fitted with saddle and bridle before going out on patrols.
“The riders also have uniforms.
“If assigned to patrol other parks, the horse will be transported to the destination.
“Usually the riders will go in pairs and patrol for about four hours,” he said.
When their duties end, the rider will bathe the horse, take it back to the stable to be fed and file a report at the administrative office.
There are also caretakers who look after the horses round the clock and ensure they are healthy and well-fed.
Ram Talib said the horses can be of service for about 20 years if well-cared for.
“When too old and sick to serve, the advisory board will decide on the horse’s fate.
“If necessary, we approach UPM to euthanise the horse, usually by injection and get a death certificate from them,” he said.
No easy steps
The DBKL stables have certified trainers as well as experienced stable managers who train the riders.
“This helps to cut cost as we do not need to hire private instructors for them,” said Ram Talib.
“However, a rider must be willing to learn and not see it as just a task.
“A horse will reflect the feelings of the rider.
One of the stable management officers cleaning a stable.
“If the rider is afraid, the horse will be more frightened.
“So, a rider must be confident,” he said, adding that it takes a lot of patience to train a horse and the rider.
Ram Talib said he was also one of the squadron’s members who participated in show jumping in the 1995 SEA games in Chiang Mai.
He won a gold in the show jumping team event, along with fellow members Quizer Ambak Fathil, Shaipul Anwar Shaharom and Omar Abdul Ghani.
In the individual category, he won a silver medal.