Why do some cops in big cities like New York still use horses?

NewYork is known as a city that never sleeps. Every year it welcomes millions of tourists across the globe. It is also one of America’s biggest states, apart from being a financial hub as well. Featuring a plethora of historical sites, it is bound to attract the attention of the world. However, one thing has always kept some people wondering. Why do some cops in big cities such as New York still use horses? Although you will get to see vehicles as well, why the use of animals in a city that can make use of much more efficient technology?

Generally referred to as the Mounted Police, their main responsibility is to perform in ceremonies, but in big cities like New York and London, they are used to prevent crime by gaining height advantage. Mounted police are able to gain a wider view of the area, whereas potential criminals can spot them as well and run away before committing a crime. In London, mounted police could be patrolling the streets regularly, especially when large crowds are gathered during football matches.

 Horses offer a number of benefits in city environments that make them an ideal partner in many situations. They allow a rider to sit up high for a better view of what’s going on.

They can turn around or maneuver in tighter spaces than a car could. They are used where a car just wouldn’t be practical, like a wilderness areas or a very large grassy park, for example, Central Park in New York.

Horses are great for dealing with crowds as well, because they’re big animals and if they push you, you’re going to move. There’s also a bit of natural fear that humans have of a big animal that may trample them, so people tend to respect a horse much more than they respect a police car. Adding to that, some people won’t think twice about smashing a cop car window, but it’s a whole different story if you’re attacking an animal. Especially if that animal can fight back.


The trend of mounted police was introduced by the French Marechaussee, who were the direct predecessors of the gendarmerie. Established in the 18th century, this was a completely mounted constabulary that was equipped at all times. Furthermore, due to poor road conditions in rural areas existing in several European states in the early 20th century made the use of horses a necessity. The establishment of mounted police in Africa, America, and the USA then became almost a worldwide trend.


Different mounted police carry different equipment while patrolling. Typically, synthetic saddles are used instead of natural leather to reduce weight as both the horses and officers have to sometimes patrol for hours during the day. Furthermore, horses are fitted with high-traction horseshoes that provide horses with traction in urban areas. Mounted police that are used during protests usually have their horses covered with facial armor to protect from injuries. Additionally, they use long wooden or polycarbonate batons to strike individuals at ground level.

Notable Modern Units

New South Wales Mounted Police

The New South Mounted Police is the world’s oldest continuous mounted police force in the world. It is a section of the New South Wales Police Force. As we speak, they have 36 officers and around 38 mounts that are used for crowd and traffic management, ceremonial, and patrol duties.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is one of the most popular mounted police in the world. Although, you do not get to see a lot of them today, however, horses are used in several municipal and provincial detachments of police.

US Border Patrol

It is surprising to think that a country like America still uses horses to patrol one of its borders. Back in 2005, the United States Border Patrol has 200 horses. These were mainly deployed along the U.S-Mexico-border. In Arizona, the horses are provided special feed so that their waste does not give rise to non-native plants in wildlife as well as national parks where they normally patrol.

Concluding, horses provide police officers better visibility and are able to run over objects and cover areas that otherwise vehicles or bikes are not able to. Most importantly, by providing height advantage, the officers are easily able to strike or grab a criminal without getting hit in return. This is the exact reason why these animals were used centuries ago during wars as well.