Ottawa’s Hidden Treasures: RCMP Stables

by DaniGirl on March 5, 2012 · 6 comments

in Ottawa Family Fun, Ottawa's hidden treasures

I have been blogging about raising a family in Ottawa for seven years and this? May be the best discovery of them all. I’ve recommended a tour of the RCMP Musical Ride Centre a couple of times as an excellent idea for free family fun in Ottawa, but I’ve never actually gotten around to doing it before now. This one has just shot to the top of my list of awesome (free!) things to do with kids in Ottawa!

Most people have heard of the RCMP’s Musical Ride, featured on the back of the Canadian $50 bill, but did you know the stables where they keep and train those magnificent horses is right here in Ottawa? I’d been meaning to take the boys down there for ages, but never got around to it. On Sunday morning, we were invited to join Simon’s Beaver scout colony for a private tour, and I have to tell you, I was amazed that I don’t hear more people raving about this.

There’s a bit of a museum, with a history of the Musical Ride, and a tack station and a farrier’s station. You can see the landau that Princess Kate and Prince William promenaded in when they visited – it was hand-crafted in 1890 in Austria and is still used for ceremonial transport of heads of state. But the real treat is the horses themselves. They’re beautiful, friendly, docile creatures (with a few exceptions!) and I was completely enamoured by Turbo in particular. He was so tall I had to stand on my tiptoes to pat his downy forehead, which he willingly crammed his face into the bars of his stall to allow me to do!

Our tour guide was Constable Ben Macconnell (how cool is THIS? they even have their own Musical Ride trading cards!), and I wish I could remember half of the interesting tidbits and lore he shared with us. For example, did you know the RCMP’s horses are at minimum 16 hands tall, which is a couple of hands taller than they were even 20 years ago, and they’re always black, and have been since, um, a former RCMP Commissioner at some point in the past (sorry, I forgot to take notes!) decreed they would all look the same. Each year, 16 new RCMP members train to join 16 existing members of the team, and they tour Canada and the world as the Musical Ride. Some members who join the team have never even been on a horse before, and they go through an intensive training program and during their 18-week lead up to touring season they spending hours each day putting the horses (and the riders!) through their paces. This year, they will be travelling to England to perform for the Queen for her diamond jubilee. (Can you imagine the logistics of getting 36 horses across the pond? Yikes!)

Since we toured on a Sunday morning, we didn’t get to see the exercises, which is why we’ll be heading back during the March Break! What a great March Break activity, eh? Here’s a peek at our tour.

RCMP stables tour

This is my new number-one favourite Ottawa family activity, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I’m not entirely clear on whether you can see the horses and riders going through their paces all the time or just in the 18 weeks that lead up to the summer performance season, so you might want to check ahead of time. Here’s the information from the Musical Ride Centre website:

Musical Ride Visitors’ Centre information:

Tours are available:

May 1 – August 31: daily 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
September – April: Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Don’t miss this one! πŸ™‚

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth March 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

We love the stables, and have been taking our children there since they were born. We live close by, and quite often get to see the Musical Ride trainees riding the horses through our neighbourhood, and sometimes even spy the landau being driven. I think it’s worth the occasional horse droppings in front of our driveway… We just missed the annual Musical Ride open house, with demonstrations, displays and carriage rides, but will be sure to go next year around this time.

2 Caitlin March 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

Does the tour cost anything? The website does not mention admission.

3 DaniGirl March 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hey Caitlin, that’s the best part – completely free! πŸ™‚

4 heather allan January 30, 2018 at 1:18 pm

I have been here many times-love all u do I have met some of u-your horses can u tell me wich 4 breeds are in the horses I know black is a must no white on them-how old are they when u start training

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