NEW ORLEANS – As a child, Robert Myers would visit the stables where the New Orleans Police Department keeps some of its most beloved officers, caring for and feeding the horses.
Little did Myers, who was adopted at birth, know that childhood experience would lead him to become the adoptive “dad” to two of the mounted unit's horses.
These days, he is a member of the NOPD’s new Adopt-A-Horse program, which helps the department offset the costs of maintaining the mounted patrol.
Angola State Prison, where the NOPD got its horses from for the better part of 30 years, decided to stop its breeding and horse program altogether. Now, the NOPD breeds its own horses, and two foals have made their arrival at the stables in City Park this past year.
“My parents told me I was special for being adopted,” said Myers. “I put myself in the horse’s shoes: how would a horse feel having someone regular come and visit him, being adopted?”
Officer David Waguespack, the lead instructor for NOPD’s mounted unit, said there are benefits to raising a horse from its birth.
“It’s like having small kids. We kind of help them grow up, and we raise them from here,” he said. “If we do that … they have a good bloodline, they have a good temperament. And they’ll be used to us.”
The Adopt-A-Horse program also pays for the equipment needed for large events, such as Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve and various festivals.
“We can control the crown a lot better from horseback than officers can on foot,” Waguespack said.
Myers said that when he visits Lurch, his equestrian adoptee, he also visits all the horses in the stable. He’s since adopted another horse, Dakota, a female.
“It’s a beautiful thing. It makes you feel good, you’re not only giving back to the police department but you’re giving back to the animal,” Myers said. “It’s priceless.”