In stride: Mounted posse still a part of Porter County
July 25, 2012 Susan O’Leary Times Correspondent
If untrained, most horses would want nothing to do with
the amount of people, noises and excitement of a county
But the horses of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department
mounted posse have become a familiar sight at the Porter
County Fair during the past 10 years.
Posse commander Sue Baugher said the 12-member team and
its 16 horses, all rider-owned, play a crucial role at
fair and “go through a lot of desensitization training
before they get out here.”
“They’ll walk into situations that most horses
wouldn’t,” Baugher said.
Horses naturally run away from things that frighten
them, Baugher said, but the posse’s horses are trained
to take distractions – like baby strollers, flapping
flags, balloons, and siren-blaring police and fire
vehicles – in stride.
Besides training at the fairground’s horse arena twice a
month from April to October, posse members travel to
Indianapolis, Lexington, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tenn.,
to train with other police posses.
The posse first served a public relations role at
parades and public appearances, but six members now have
Department of Homeland Security search and rescue
training. Baugher said the horses also must not bite or
kick, must be used to being touched, and must remain
under control in all circumstances.
Aside from PR, the posse is invaluable in helping
fairgoers locate cars in a crowded parking lot,
directing traffic, and even rounding up 4-H cattle
escaped from the beef barn.
Perhaps most valuable is their ability to part a crowd
to guide an ambulance down the midway for a medical
emergency, Baugher said.
“It amazes me that people won’t move for an ambulance
but they’ll move for a horse,” Baugher said. “We are so
visible that we’re often the first contact with people
who need help.”
Although posse members are not police officers, Baugher
is a reserve officer who carries a firearm and has
“limited arrest powers.”
This year’s triple digit temperatures have been a
concern. Horses can drink up to 15 gallons of water
during their 10- to 12-hour daily fair duty. It can also
be inconvenient “when your horse poops unexpectedly in
front of a kid in a stroller,” said Donna Nay, of
“They’re not house-trained,” Baugher added.
Nay said it’s touching to see Dandy, her 20-year-old
quarter horse, lower her head to be petted by kids.
“It’s like they know,” Nay said.
Kristi Crowe, of Portage, said she enjoys having
something to do with her horse “besides feeding him and
cleaning up after him," but ultimately, her “favorite
thing” is interacting with the kids.
“We see a lot of kids from the city who have never seen
a horse,” said Kristi Crowe, of Portage, astride C.B.,
her 17-year-old palomino. “When you see the joy on their
faces because it’s the first time they’ve seen a horse
... I love that.”