Do you still need a sign that summer is on its way in Canada?

How about that annual summer tradition, the RCMP Musical Ride?

The RCMP held a special preview of this year’s edition at the RCMP Stables on St. Laurent Boulevard. It was a chance for RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson to inspect the 32 riders and their mounts.

At the fore was Supt. Leslie Cook, the first-ever female Officer in Charge of the Musical Ride. “It was a very proud moment for me,” says Cook. “I was on the ride from 1992 to 95. It brought back all those great memories. And to be able to come back as the Officer in Charge, just a very proud day for me.”

The Musical Ride is an impressive demonstration of precision riding. The riders weave in and out of tightly-choreographed formations, some with their roots in the battle maneuvers first practised by the North West Mounted Police some 140 years ago. “It is like a ballet with horses,” says Cook.

And it’s not easy. Riders are selected from RCMP detachments across Canada . The horses are specially bred at an RCMP facility in Pakenham, west of Ottawa. Both spend six months learning and practising the show, riding for hours each day.

The pay-off is a crowd-pleasing Canadian tradition. “It’s cool,” says young Jillian Campbell. “I like the tricks that they do.” Her grandfather, Lionel Campbell observes “It’s world famous. They’ve been all over the world with that.”

Following the inspection and preview performance the RCMP Musical Ride will quickly head out on tour. This year that tour includes stops in Quebec and Alberta. The ride will also return to Ottawa for the annual Sunset Ceremony, June 25th to the 29th.