Police dept’s heavy horses loving their new therapy

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Officer Charles Breeden (left) and Officer Andy Montoya (right) spend time with police horse Rudy on the TheraPlate. 
Officer Charles Breeden (left) and Officer Andy Montoya (right) spend time with police horse Rudy on the TheraPlate. © Albuquerque Police Department Horse Mounted Unit

Albuquerque’s police department has a new tool to help its police horses keep in shape to fight crime and battle bad guys.

Two new “therapy plates” have been installed at the department’s Horse Mounted Unit to keep its horses healthy and in top condition. The Therapy Platforms by TheraPlate are a rehabilitation and therapy system designed for horses, humans, and dogs. They uses dynamic movement to increase circulation, bone strength, and muscle mass, while also reducing swelling and inflammation and promoting rapid healing and pain relief. TheraPlate improves and maximizes performance for horses and humans, as well as reduces healing time on existing injuries and reduces the chance of new injuries occurring.

TheraPlate Revolution Therapy Platforms is the Official Therapy Plate of the United States Equestrian Federation, and is in the barns of sport horses throughout the country, from jumpers to reining horses.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD)’s Horse Mounted Unit (HMU) is made up of two full-time mounted police officers and 10 part-time riders, along with a sergeant. The Horse Mounted Unit currently has seven horses working, and two young horses in training.

According to Officer Tanner Tixier, the Albuquerque Police Department’s Public Information Officer, the police department discovered the TheraPlate at TheraPlate’s booth in the trade fair at the Arabian Horse Association Youth Nationals, which was held at Expo New Mexico in July.

“After seeing the demo, we attended a training day at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where we observed two TheraPlates set up and being used. The Kentucky Horse Park managers had several stories of success,” Tixier said. The TheraPlate looked too good to pass up for the Albuquerque Police Department’s Horse Mounted Unit — so the officers decided to install two TheraPlates of their own.

“We felt that the TheraPlate could be beneficial for our horses because they have long hours on the pavement and long hours of static display,” Tixier said, adding that the unit is creating a schedule to allow all of the horses to use a TheraPlate every day.

“The TheraPlate can help with the prevention of sore backs, and relieve joint pain.”

Not only horses can reap the benefits of the TheraPlate: “Occasionally, the officers might ‘accidentally’ end up on a TheraPlate themselves after a long training or patrol day,” Tixier added.

The Albuquerque Police Department Horse Mounted Unit began in 1977 for the purpose of crime prevention and public relations. Due to the size and calm disposition of heavy horses, the unit uses draft breeds. This allows the officers to be effective for crowd control thanks to a 12-foot viewing advantage. It also makes them six times more visible than a patrol officer, bike officer, or an officer in a squad car. According to the Horse Mounted Unit, one horse is equivalent to 10 officers on foot.

In addition to crowd control, the Albuquerque Mounted Police patrol high crime areas, perform search and rescue, and attend special events and school and neighborhood functions. They also help educate the community about equine safety and awareness. Due to their busy schedule, the horses need to be in top shape to perform their duties.

Andy Montoya, a full-time officer in the Albuquerque Police Department Horse Mounted Unit, helps mounted police horse Stryker use the TheraPlate while Max looks on waiting for his turn.
Andy Montoya, a full-time officer in the Albuquerque Police Department Horse Mounted Unit, helps mounted police horse Stryker use the TheraPlate while Max looks on waiting for his turn. © Albuquerque Police Department Horse Mounted Unit

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