The last round-up
It was a surreal image: Two horses, tied to a parking meter outside a cafe in downtown Portland, as if a passer-by had stepped out of the modern-day city and into a Western film.
But the passer-by would know where the police were: Sitting inside with one eye on their steed and one eye on the streets.
Portland's Mounted Patrol unit was created in 1872 with a horse-drawn trolley. The unit underwent trials before fizzling out in the 1940s. Then, with one sergeant and two officers, the unit was reinstated in 1979 before being disbanded again in 2017.
And up until the end, they gave an Old West vibe to urban Portland. "They'd pull up there and tie their horse up to the parking meter and go and have coffee," said Larry Kanzler, former commander of Portland's Mounted Patrol Unit and the sergeant who reinstated it in 1979.
This is the story of four of the horses you might have seen downtown when they patrolled the streets as the Portland Police Mounted Patrol Unit. This June marked a year since their final time suiting up to patrol before the unit disbanded due to budget cuts. The disbanding impacted the horses, their previous owners, the officers who rode them and the greater Portland community.
While some people feel nostalgia for the program's existence, all are happily welcoming the horses to their final homes in retirement.
Kanzler, who relocated the retired horse Major to his land near Prineville, said it's a whole new life for the horses and the community. His wife Cheryl Kanzler said Major probably asks himself daily, "Where's my meter?" Instead, she said, "He gets tied to some sagebrush."
The eight the horses that patrolled with Portland's police are now scattered and tied up to new places.
Murphy went back home in southern Oregon where he's competing in dressage, a highly skilled form of riding, while Red, Monty and Asher are family trail horses. Major found his place in Prineville, while Diesel went back home to Port Orchard, Wash. Olin aids people with mental or physical barriers as a therapy horse at Forward Stride in Beaverton and Zeus lives with a former mounted patrol stable attendant at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club.
See a video of the Mounted Patrol horses:
The Mounted Patrol series: