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Mounties saddle up for community
County Mounties.jpg
County Mounties unit leader Donna Thornton mounts her horse Dixie to patrol the fair. North Carolina resident Wendy Devine and her horse, Kooper, can be seen in the background. - photo by Lacy Garrison

Did you notice horses patrolling the Warren County A&L Fair, or helping with crowd control?

The horses and their riders are part of the newest search and rescue volunteer organization taking shape in our community – the County Mounties.

The County Mounties of Warren County are affiliated with a national equestrian network. Some of the local charter members have already received specialized training, along with their horses, in rough-terrain searches and public safety operations in close quarters with motorized vehicles.

Warren County resident and unit leader Donna Thornton has trained with police in Alabama, including an eight-day course to aid the sheriff’s office in search and rescue efforts where it is helpful to have horse-mounted personnel.

“For example, if a child gets lost in the crowd, we are elevated and have a better view than someone on foot,” said Thornton. “I’d like to encourage more local riders to volunteer.”

Thornton hopes to inspire more Warren County residents to join the nonprofit organization because she believes they are a valuable asset, especially during incidents involving a lost person. She feels the liability cost volunteers have to pay to perform search and rescue work, which is $190, deters some people from joining.

“That covers medical in case we get hurt, but if you save one life in a search and rescue, it’s worth it,” said Thornton. “It’s rewarding to be able to help and do something.”

Thornton said other perks for County Mounties include tax deductions and horse training. After training in an obstacles course with smoke, fire, and loud sirens, the horse trusts its rider, a partnership is created and the horse is safer to ride, according to Thornton.

The fair was the County Mounties first deployment in Warren County. For more information on how to join the organization, contact Thornton at 668-2086 or 808-1139.