They came from afar, across the ocean, leaving their cool, temperate homes to serve in this hot and humid tropical island. People thronging the Colombo Fort can see them trotting to and fro on traffic control duty. They are the horses of the Sri Lanka Mounted Police Division.
They move among the traffic their glossy coats gleaming in the early morning sunlight, obedient to their officers slightest command.
The Mounted Police Division of the Sri Lanka Police or the Ceylon Police as it was known then was established in 1921 at Mihindu Mawatha, Pettah.
The Mounted Police
The Division was established as a permanent division of the Sri Lanka Police with some high ranking officers and several European sergeants.
At the time of Sri Lanka getting independence the Police Department was restructured.
Along with this the Mounted Police Division was recognised as a Special Division.
Subsequently, Mounted Police Divisions were established in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.
By 1956, in accordance with the policy of recruiting Sri Lankans to the Mounted Police Division several police personnel were appointed to the Mounted Police Division.
Twenty-three horses were also brought from Australia to strengthen the Division’s complement of horses.
Today, there are 36 horses belonging to the Mounted Police Division. Of these 21 are in Colombo, 9 are stationed in Kandy and are 6 in Nuwara Eliya.
If the heat in Colombo and Kandy increases the horses are temporally housed in cool Nuwara Eliya.
Some of them were in their stalls when the Junior Observer visited the Division.
Favory, Biagio, (dark brown) Bychvaelle, Gusumica (light brown) Futter (white) and Fernando (black) and in addition Henk, Gallizian, Fue, Foxtrot, Ziwago and Dolf stood inside their stalls peacefully gazing at the world outside. They seemed to be a little tired possibly after fulfilling their early morning traffic control duties in the Colombo Fort. These beautiful horses are ridden by CI, Lasantha Gunathunga, SI, Gayan Madushanka, SI, Kumarage, WPC, Himanshi, WPC, Shashika, PC, Ananda, PC, Ravindra, PC, Chamara, PS, Sarath Kumara, PC, Tharaka and PS, Malinda.
The horses are subjected to a meticulous regime of care and grooming. Bathing and brushing are a part of their daily routine. They are taken for sea baths to Colombo’s newly built Port City weekly if the weather permits. Here the horses are allowed to indulge in ‘horse play’ to their hearts content.
A correct and balanced diet is vital to maintain the horses’s health. They are fed at regular intervals throughout the day.
Chaff, oats, barley, grass, salt, minerals, iron and vitamins form an essential part of the horses’s diet among other food and nutrients.
Exercise is a must for the horses’s fitness and officers of the Mounted Police ensure that their horses are well exercised.
These horses are under the eagle eyes of their keepers A.L.G. Pradeep Kumara, Ravilal Kumarasiri and S.G.J. Chathuranga.
What are the duties of horses the Mounted Police?
They form an integral part of the Independence Day celebrations. These provide escorts for visiting Foreign Heads of State and Credential Presenting Ceremonies of Ambassadors. They also give equestrian displays at public events with Government patronage.
Among the additional duties undertaken by the Mounted Police is the participation in local and foreign races and appearing in advertisements and movies with the prior approval of the IGP.
Police Officers of the Police Mounted Division need to have special training and pass a proficiency exam to be eligible for riding in the Division. Police personnel from outside the Mounted Police Division should be above the rank of ASP. The hiring of the horse boxes is a source of income to the Police Mounted Division.
It was an enjoyable and interesting experience visiting the Police Mounted Division and the Junior Observer gratefully acknowledges the tremendous support extended by Director of the Police Mounted Division, SSP, Thilina Hewapathirana, OIC of the Police Mounted Division, CI, Lasantha Gunathunga and Personal Assistant of the Director Police Mounted Division, IP Chamara Samitha.