By Brenda Gough
The RCMP Musical Ride has a long history of performing for Canadians, and when the troop of 33 riders and horses executed their cavalry drill and intricate figures last weekend in Nanoose Bay there was likely no one more thrilled than Cliff Hobbis.
The 93-year-old Nanaimo resident was with the Musical Ride from 1956-58. Hobbis was a member of the RCMP for 10 years and was stationed in various communities across the country before retiring in Nanaimo in 1980.
From his front-row seat at the Arbutus Meadows Equestrian Centre for the first of three shows, he recalled his days as a red-coated Mountie on horseback.
He said that being part of the Musical Ride was the highlight of his RCMP career and seeing this year’s team brought back fond memories of his days in the saddle.
“We got to travel all over the country and in the United States,” Hobbis said.
The former RCMP officer proudly showed a picture of himself in his scarlet uniform taken at one of his many performances over 40 years ago. He also carried a photo of his father who was a member of the North West Mounted Police.
It was the early members of the North West Mounted Police who developed the Musical Ride as a way to display their riding ability and entertain themselves and the community.
The Musical Ride has been performing for Canadians since 1887 and over the years its popularity has grown, becoming a world-renowned attraction.
Hobbis brought along his wife, Mary, and both were beaming with pride when Supt. Marty Chesser, the Officer-in-Charge of the Musical Ride, announced to the packed auditorium that he was honoured to have met Hobbis that day.
Chesser, perched in the centre of the riding ring on Piper, a 16-year-old gelding, had Hobbis stand up and be recognized for his contribution and service to the RCMP.
Hobbis said he couldn’t believe it.
“It took me two days to settle down after that, I was so excited. I was like a little kid.”
Hobbis said he met Chesser by chance when he was checking out an RCMP display prior to the show.
“I was over by the booth where they had badges and that’s where I showed him a picture of me and the ride and that’s how it all started,” he said.
There will be more excitement next month for Hobbis. He and his wife will celebrate 72 years of marriage on Sept. 13. He said the secret to a long marriage is good communication.
The next stops on Vancouver Island for the Musical Ride are Campbell River Aug. 10-11, Comox Aug. 13-14, Duncan Aug. 16, and Saanich Aug. 17-18.