AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Soon you could see a lot more horses in Aiken following the newest addition to the Department of Public Safety, The Aiken Volunteer Mounted Unit.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Nicole Pioli of Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk. “It’s in the works for about six years.”
She says it’s a great idea for the equestrian community.
“We are a horse community and I just think it gives an opportunity for our Aiken Department of Public Safety to have relationships and to build new relationships and friendships with community members,” she added.
The non-sworn patrol will be primarily ceremonial, at least, at this point.
“So they don’t have the authority to arrest,” Lieutenant Karl Odenthal with the Aiken Department of Public Safety said. ‘”So it would be used for things like parades and work hand in hand with our honor guards so they can present colors. They can present colors at polo matches at different horse events. Our hope is to incorporate them more fully as we realize more of what their potential is.”
Volunteers will practice and train at Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center.
“Twelve riders all together and the individual who trained them is a certified trainer for police mounted patrol but they did some groundwork with the horses,” Lieutenant Odenthal added.
“It was really neat seeing all the horses work together as a team,” Pioli said.
The volunteers had a chance to learn from one of the best.
“We had Sgt. McCarter out of the York County Sheriff’s Office come down,” Lieutenant Odenthal said.
He and his horse Aiken to conduct all of the training to help get them accustomed to what they may meet while on duty.
“Different environments such as crowds, noises, things like that —that might occur when you’re interacting with a group of people,” Lieutenant Odenthal also said.
The riders are all volunteers from the community. They plan on doing their first function within the next month or so.
Training will take place on a monthly basis at Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center