The ride of a lifetime

RCMP officer Rusty Olsen shares experience with Musical Ride

Being part of the RCMP Musical Ride isn’t something a lot of people can say that they’ve done, and rider Rusty Olsen doesn’t take it for granted.

Olsen grew up in Ontario, and later moved to Vancouver to study sociology at the University of B.C. Shortly after, Olsen joined the RCMP.

“I had a friend recommend joining the RCMP, and it just seemed to make sense for me at the time,” said Olsen, explaining that he worked as a police officer in Burnaby for seven years, and eventually found himself interested in joining the musical ride.

“Growing up, it’s not something I expected I would be doing for work; riding a horse or being a police officer. But after joining the RCMP, the musical ride seemed like a natural fit because I have always loved horses and animals.”

Olsen then entered a five-week audition process. At the end, around 10 officers are selected to join the ride, and Olsen made the cut.

He then started training for his first tour, which took about six months.

During the training, riders learn how to ride and perform routines, build relationships with the horses, and learn how to groom and take care of the horses.

“We would spend three hours a day, five days a week training, and then the rest of the time we would be taking care of the horses, grooming them, cleaning the stables, feeding them, things like that,” said Olsen.

“Building a relationship with the horses is kind of similar to a dog. There’s the affection, where you go in and you give them a treat and a scratch, but there is also the discipline, where you set parameters with them, and build a mutual respect. It really is a partnership, and they are such magnificent animals.”

Last summer, Olsen went on his first tour, which he said was incredibly special because it was the Canada 150 tour. The group visited all 10 provinces in the nation and one territory.

“It was unbelievable. We travelled all around Canada and saw places that we probably never would have otherwise,” said Olsen.

“I love being able to go to these communities and have such a positive experience. As a police officer, often times you are walking into a situation of crisis, but the musical ride is quite the opposite. It’s such a celebration, and I feel so lucky to be part of such an iconic symbol in Canadian history.”

Olsen is now on his second and final tour with the musical ride, which will be coming to Sooke this weekend, with shows on Saturday and Sunday at Fred Milne Park.

“Our Sooke visit will be particularly special for me because my sister and her family live there, so I look forward to having them come out and see the show,” Olsen said, adding that he also has family Saanich who will be coming to watch.

The riders get the day off on Friday and plan to explore the area.

“Some of the riders have never been out to the Island before, so it will be a lot of fun getting to show them around. I think we will probably check out the Potholes.”

Once the tour is over, Olsen plans to return to policing, and is considering moving to the Island for work.

”The musical ride was such an amazing experience, but it is quite demanding on the body. It was a nice break, but I love my old work as well and I look forward to getting back to policing,” said Olsen.

Olsen’s favourite part about being a rider has been working with the horses, and getting to bring communities together.

“My goal as a rider is to represent Canada in the best light possible, and it has been so great to carry on our country’s traditions.”

Just Posted

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Coast Collective ready to Raise the Roof with Langford art auction

The fundraiser is Friday, Oct 18 at the Royal Canadian Legion on Station Road

Saanich residents planning Halloween fireworks displays must plan ahead

Folks are required to attend one of three safety courses, buy a permit

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Most Read