Bring on the Cavalry
Whether they’re attending ceremonial occasions or out patrolling, they’re a sight to behold.
Vaughan Willmore takes a look at the work of the Cavalrymen of the Algarve and their horses.
Bring on the Cavalry
Whether they’re attending ceremonial occasions or out patrolling, they’re a sight to behold. Vaughan Willmore takes a look at the work of the Cavalrymen of the Algarve and their horses.
One of the most captivating sights in policing is that of the mounted police. In many countries, their work now tends to be more ceremonial in nature but, here in the Algarve, they continue to perform much valued operational duties.
There are 16 horses currently at work in the Algarve, helping to keep people and property safe from harm. While their operational deployment is directed from the Guarda Nacional Republicana’s (GNR’s) territorial command in Faro, the horses and their riders are dispersed throughout the Algarve at stables and stations in Loulé, Vilamoura and Silves.
All of the horses start their working lives in Lisbon at the USHE (State Security and Honours Unit), a GNR Unit derived from the old Regimento de Cavalaria (Cavalry Regiment) and which has lead responsibility for the provision of state honours and securing the sovereign estate. It’s at the USHE that the horses receive their initial training, after which they are either retained by the unit or transferred to a territorial division such as Faro.
In terms of the officers - or Cavalrymen as they are known - in addition to their ‘normal’ GNR duties they undertake a Specific Cavalry Course consisting of lessons in hippology; the use of firearms on horseback, and everything else needed to help them become the most proficient riders possible.
The use of horses is regarded by the GNR as a distinct benefit both in terms of its operational advantages and public perception. The Cavalrymen and their horses ‘having the ability to convey an image of confidence and authority to people of all ages, residents and holidaymakers alike’. It is partly for this reason they are often utilised in military ceremonies and demonstrations in schools and at festivals and exhibitions.