Memphis police officers Melissa Haley, from left, Paul French, Robert Hence and Mark Henderson react as they watch a photo slide show from their recently completed Basic Mounted Patrol School.
Photo credit: AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Brandon Dill
When Lt. Anthony Rudolph was a child, his parents told him he would learn the best lessons through a paddle on the seat of his pants, advice he passed on to recruits at the Memphis Police Department's mounted patrol unit graduation Friday.
The recruits trained on live horses without saddles their first week of equine academy.
"Are you serious?" Officer Gerard Tuznik said of the requirement.
Rudolph, MPD special operations administrative supervisor, said the officers had to adapt to the training that started July 16.
"This last three weeks has been a lesson from Isaac Newton's playbook, in which you all are now greatly versed -- gravity," he said in his address to the graduates.
Rudolph said recruits got a lesson in balance by falling off the horses daily. They were given a saddle during week two, but no stirrups, so they still fell.
"The hardest part of week three was knowing it was coming to an end," Tuznik said. "In the end it was worth every bruise."
Only five of the 11 graduates will be stationed at the MPD stables Downtown at 509 Peach Street.
"It's a good thing to know that we have men and women who are dedicated to staying the course," Anthony Berryhill, deputy chief of special operations, said of the training.
Berryhill said the other officers, including Tuznik, will go back to their precincts until the department can find officers to fill their jobs.
Sgt. Felipe Boyce, mounted patrol training officer, said his goal is to have all the recruits stationed at the stables.
"It makes you feel good to know you did a pretty decent job and got everyone through," Boyce said. "They are very resilient. They have great attitudes and they are going to make good riders."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service