Tag Archives: Oklahoma County Mounted Patrol

Traveler Shares His Name

Sam Chesnut’s tender demeanor around his horse Traveler never hints at his former life as a police force sniper. Though bald and supported by a cane from various rounds of cancer treatments, Sam’s gentle voice shares story after story about his favorite horse…each one ending with a kiss on Traveler’s large, dark cheek.

It’s as if Sam is energized when in the pasture telling horse tales.

I had asked to visit with Sam and Traveler because I had been touched by their story: a formerly abused horse adopted by a Deputy Sheriff in the Oklahoma County mounted patrol, and their life as they learned to work together.

Traveler giving me permission to use his name. He lifted his foot once for “yes!”

The relationship of a horse and his owner is time-tested and true, and these two were no different.  Their love is deep; and perhaps deeper still these past months and years as Sam’s cancer has posed increasingly complex challenges over what course of treatment or options to try next.

See, here’s the thing.  Every Point on the Map is a deeply personal and important project for me, and after “sitting on the bench” for almost a year as I transitioned to our new home in Ada, I needed my own “horse.”  I waited and waited for inspiration, but never could settle on the vehicle I needed to carry me the next 8 years to the remaining 80% of Oklahoma’s 594 towns not yet visited.

The Fowler VW team is a fun crew. Not only were they willing to jump in the picture and celebrate my Atlas purchase, but they all taught me how to use the cool features… SO MANY FEATURES!

The waiting ended, however, when I learned that VW was putting out their new three-row SUV and naming it…get this…the Atlas.  Get it?  Atlas?  Every Point on the MAP?  As soon as I heard “Atlas,” and learned that it was a quality, roomy, safe vehicle…I knew I had to buy one.  But not only did I need to buy the right Atlas, I needed to give it the right name.

That is where Sam’s horse, Traveler, comes into the picture.  I come from a long line of family members who named inanimate objects.  My grandmother’s family named their tractor Elmer and their car Rupert. My uncle Gail named his truck Henry.

I named my former VW Jetta Luitgaard, German for “guarder of the light.”  So, you get it that names are a big deal, yes?

But my new Atlas name had to be perfect. I knew that if I’m going to finish the last 80% of Every Point on the Map, I would be bonding deeply with my vehicle, and we would be “traveling together” for miles upon miles.

So, I went to a noble place, and spoke with a noble man, who’s noble horse gave me the blessing and permission to share his name with my own “horse.”

Knowing my own Traveler is carrying the story of Sam and his horse makes me feel more comfortable. They’ve touched my heart.

And, I hope the stories I find in all our Oklahoma towns touch yours.

See you soon…

Lord, if we should stumble, my horse and I,

Please pick him up first,

For he has carried me through

Both heaven and hell.

~prayer author unknown

What Do You See When You Glance at a Police Horse? Perhaps More Than You Think.

Me and Traveler on "the boxes." This is an obstacle to develop precision in foot placement when crossing obstacles or climbing stairs. (Photo provided by the author, courtesy of the OCSO)

by Sam Chesnut

The concept of using horses in law enforcement is as old as law enforcement itself.  But the requirements placed on the law enforcement horse, and the methods used in its training, are constantly changing.  The Sheriff, or Marshal, of bygone days did not have the many different venues that a modern police horse has to deal with.  The law enforcement horse of the 1800’s did not have our traffic, crowds, or complexity of civilization.  And with special circumstances comes the need for special training.

What you see as the modern police horse is the result of many hours of this special training.  Recently Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and the Oklahoma County Mounted Patrol supervisors conducted a five day school dedicated to the implementation and training of the police horse.  The officers attending came from several different law enforcement agencies including the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) with other participants traveling from as far away as Indiana.  Through Sheriff Whetsel’s supervision the school has been a great success and has grown in attendance every year.  The school and its instructors are known nationwide.  On many occasions Deputy Randy Garner, OCSO Mounted Patrol Section Leader and chief instructor, has been requested to teach mounted police tactics to units in other areas of the nation.  The following is a brief glimpse of how the training is conducted:

The first matter of business is an extensive warm-up time that allows both the horses and riders to become accustomed to their surroundings and the training aids they will be using.  Police horse training is similar to that of the police K-9 unit development.  All programming is initiated by letting the horse play with a certain object.  Then the “play” is directed toward “mission oriented” tasks.  For example, the beginning of the Crowd Control training is accomplished by using a large (four foot in diameter) inflated “beach ball.”  The horse is directed to push it and soon he is pushing and kicking it around like a child playing with a ball. Continue reading What Do You See When You Glance at a Police Horse? Perhaps More Than You Think.