By Melanie Camp
Saddle Up, LA is perhaps Los Angeles’ most unique full-day, fundraising event. It is about as close to a ride along with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mounted Unit as one can get.
To be held this year on Saturday Oct. 3, the day begins with a three-hour trail ride through Griffith Park guided by officers from the Unit and while most who choose to take part bring their own horses, arrangements can be made for those without to rent a horse and join in the fun.
After the trail ride the Ahmanson Equestrian Facility, home to the Mounted Unit, is opened to the public and a BBQ lunch is served. Barn tours provide a rare opportunity to explore the two-acre facility, usually closed to the public.
The day ends with a special concert from country music star Easton Corbin at The Regent in downtown Los Angeles.
The LAPD Mounted Unit is a welcome sight along the Venice Boardwalk, especially in the summer months when the increased influx of tourists is often matched with an increase in crime.
Officer Eric Coffey, who is responsible for organizing this years fundraising event says, “Any spike in crime that happens in this city is mapped out and they send us in that direction. So right now, and for the past month or so, we’ve been assigned to Venice for a little while with Pacific Division.”
The summer has been a busy one for LAPD Pacific. Sergeant Brian Heaney explains the support the Mounted Unit has been able to provide on the Westside.
“We’re like a workforce multiplier, we can come in and assist with a problem area whether it’s a vagrancy issue, vandalism, or a rise in aggravated assaults,” says Heaney.
Coffey says being up in the saddle gives the officers a different perspective.
“Being so high up we see things at a different level. When we turn a corner we can see all the way down the street whereas a police car is down a lot lower,” Coffey says. “Police cars can get to somewhere faster than we can but we turn corners and we’re able to look down the street. The reason we’re in Venice Beach right now, it’s a place where lots of visitors go and there’s thousands and thousands of people. We can literally go right through a crowd and see a fight happening or see a person doing something they shouldn’t be on the complete other side of all those people. You name it, we’ve chased people on bikes, we’ve chased people down the beach.”
A valuable part of the Venice community, the LAPD Mounted Unit rely upon donations from the community to purchase horses and to help provide specialized training for both the officers and horses.
Saddle Up, LA is the platoon’s main fundraiser. The event takes place every year and all donations are tax deductible.
Supporters are invited to all or any of the day’s activities. Tickets for the morning ride and lunch are $75 per person or $50 for lunch only. Space is limited, to RSVP call: 213.489.4636
Those wanting to attend the benefit concert can purchase tickets directly from The Regent or online at www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/923091.