LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - The Louisville Metro Police Department has an advantage to patrolling Thunder -- and it comes on four legs.


The Louisville Metro Mounted patrol will be out at Thunder Over Louisville, and team members say they want people to come by and say hello.

This week, kids at the George Unseld Early Learning Center got to meet two of the horses, Fury and Cruiser. When the team isn't doing public appearances, the public is still drawn to them because of their big, commanding presence.

"We're out there and we're seen," said Officer Justin Hardy of Louisville Metro Mounted Police. "A lot of people approach us just to talk to us about what's going on, and they may give us a crime tip or something else -- what has happened in their neighborhood." 

Police on horses have many advantages, one being that they can respond quickly. They patrol full-time, year round. The officers and horses work six hours on patrol during an eight-hour shift. There are six horses with LMPD. The only time they do not work is in extreme cold or heat, and thunderstorms. You can spot them patrolling the Big Four Bridge, waterfront and downtown area.

"The benefit to having our mode of transportation, we are elevated a lot higher than what somebody would be in a vehicle, and we can see through alleys, parking lots," Hardy said.

The horses are what is called a draft breed, which  is larger than your average horse. They have a little bit of thoroughbred in them, and their bone structure is very strong, which is perfect for the grinding work of the streets. 

The next three weeks are huge for the team, and Hardy says the horses can sense it is Derby time.

"When Derby Festival kicks off, the horses kind of, they know it's spring they know it's getting warmer," hardy smiled. "We give them fresh haircuts, they know it's time for Derby, or whatever."

The horses are trained in crowd control and don't get spooked if you brush into them.

"If a situation does arise, the horses know how to respond," Hardy said. "The horse isn't going to react if he's not told to react. If you're in a large crowd like we'll be in this weekend, there will literally be people walking within inches of the horse, the horse knows to listen to the rider."

He says not to be shy if you see them this weekend, or any other time on patrol.

"If you see us out, definitely come up and say hi," he said. "We like to talk about the horses and give people the opportunity to see us."

Mounted Patrol officers say you're welcome to stop by their home in Iroquois Park anytime, to meet the horses.

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