MENDON, N.Y. (WROC) — Growing up, Deputy Michael Horst says his father was an excellent horseman. A direct inspiration. “So I’ve been very blessed in the fact that — I get to combine my work with my passion for the horse,” says Horst.

Horst — a fitting name — says he’s always had a Rolodex of people to go to for help during his career. He actually retired in 2010 after 18 years in the saddle, with a full service of 24 years.

But he’s volunteered and worked part-time at the Mounted Patrol in Mendon ever since then. 

“Again, it’s the passion for the horse that keeps me doing this,” he says.

The training these horses have to go through — like Lincoln standing at his side — is rigorous to get them ready for things like parades, festivals, and urban areas; things that aren’t normal to them.

Horst says it’s a process that takes a year.  

“In our training arena, we do a lot of stuff with sensory — flares, different objects to make them walk through,” he says.

Horst says there is very much a need for horse patrols when it comes to crowd management. Much of it comes down to deterrence and making criminals think twice. 

“Hopefully by being seen — again, it’s kind of hard to miss somebody sitting on top of a horse,” he says.

It’s also a public relations tool to engage with the community. And if you see Horst out on the streets — he knows he’s not the star… and it’s okay. 

“Most of the time people like to see maybe not so much me, they want to see the horse.”

Horst’s brother was also on mounted patrol with the Rochester Police Department for 35 years. First Responders Spotlight is sponsored — as always — by our friends at Bill Gray’s. 

Deputy Michael Horst with Lincoln (News 8 WROC Photo / Christian Garzone)