In order to be eligible for mounted training a ranger must have served with the department for a minimum of one season. Prior horse experience is not required. Mounted training begins with learning basic horse psychology. Teaching new riders, how and why horses think and react is fundamental in safely handling horses from the ground. Training also includes basic equine management, covering such topics as mucking, haltering, leading. Finer points of horse management are also taught including; colic prevention, horse anatomy, emergency equine first-aid and how recognize and treat common ailments.
The rangers then learn basic horsemanship skills and are taught to ride. The rangers ride a military seat with open toed irons and double reins. The trainees become proficient at the walk, trot and canter, being taught to back, side pass, turn on the fore, haunches and jump. They are also trained in conducting programs with their mounts (Horse of Course, H.O.C.) which encourages positive interaction with the public.
The horses used by the park rangers are from various breeds and back grounds. They range in size from 15.1-17hh, are geldings and usually of solid color. Ideally, the horses range in age from 4-9 years old. However, older sound, sane horses have been used.
After arrival to the stable, re-mounts are quarantined for ten days. This allows the horse to rest and settle into a new environment. Over the next twenty days the horse will be exposed to many things, some familiar, some completely foreign. The horse is ridden and evaluated on basic gaits and athletic abilities. After the thirty day evaluation, a decision is made to either keep the horse or reject him. A horse that is accepted is then assigned to a veteran rider and exposed to the rigors of life as a patrol horse.