by Cheryl Erpelding
Can you imagine getting paid to attend music festivals, writing off your horse expenses, and sharing your love of horses? That is very much a reality if you join the team at Alpha & Omega Mounted Security Patrol. The love of horses and music was the main reason that A&O founder and CEO Frank Keller, a certified mounted police instructor, started his company in the 1980s. Event producers/managers rave about what a positive influence A&O Mounted Security Patrol riders have on their guests and it is a key part of their crowd management plan. A&O started as an entertainment company providing horse drawn rides and Santa Claus arrivals for shopping centers. Since those early years, A&O has grown into a much sought-after provider of public safety and is the nation’s only private mounted patrol. Riders have the opportunity to become a trooper part-time and/or work seasonally providing public safety at events and mass gatherings. Full time work is available in Texas.
Based in Texas, A&O provides security and crowd management services to many of California’s top festivals including: Coachella, StageCoach, Outside Lands, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. They provide their mounted patrols nationwide and many of their team members travel with their horses to work several of the events that A&O serves. A&O works hand in hand with the event staff/management and the riders are trained to be polite and professional with all of the guests. They undergo extensive training by Frank and his team. They are familiar with law enforcement protocols and are ready to work in coordination with them and to keep the event running smoothly. The presence of horses is a huge deterrent to criminal activity. Being head and shoulders above the crowds on a majestic horse has a positive influence on everyone troopers come in contact with. We who love horses, know this to be true.
When I spoke with some of the troopers about working with A&O, the common thread was the same, “It’s like being a part of a big happy family and having fun reunions.” Getting paid to provide a safe festival environment on the horses they love is a huge plus, but the camaraderie the team members enjoy is what they love best. Laurie Cameron, who has been riding with A&O since 1998, works full time as an office manager in Contra Costa, CA, and takes all her vacation time to work the events with her horse. She is on her third patrol horse, a Percheron Quarter horse PMU mare she got as a four-year-old. Her mare is the best one yet and she looks forward to riding and working alongside her long time friends and making new ones. “The work really builds up your partnership and confidence with both horse and rider,” she said. She works the California festivals and has traveled to Canada, Michigan, Delaware and Tennessee to “vacation” on horseback and get a paycheck while doing it.
Cyndi Gibbs, who has been with A&O for 13 years, is a sergeant in the saddle and also an administrative sergeant. She helps her teammates get their security licenses for the festivals. She just sold her black and white Clydesdale horse to one of the members and she is now currently riding one of the horses on staff with A&O. She loves that you can ride as much or as little as you want. She originally applied to the mounted patrol to make her horse pay for himself. But she quickly realized that being a part of A&O was more than a fun job; she was part of a close knit family. No matter where you may be, you are likely within a couple of hundred miles of another trooper. If you are having vehicle or horse issues, they will drop what they are doing and come take care of one another. She says, “We are the eyes and the ears for the managers of the events they work, and we are the best at what we do!” She loves being a part of A&O and is on the hunt for her next horse to join the patrol team.
Steve Torrance writes, “I first heard of A&O from other horse owners who encouraged me to, ‘Give it a try.’ I initially saw A&O as an opportunity to make money with my horse, but I also took it as a challenge to my horsemanship skills. Were my skills good enough, and was I capable of helping my horse succeed in the mounted security environment? I worked my first detail in 2009. What I had not envisioned was the opportunity A&O gave me to meet and work with numerous ‘horse people’ from all over the country. What a huge bonus it has been to meet, work with, and get to know like-minded professional equestrians from all walks of life – all with one commonality – their love for the horse. The bond created among fellow troopers during these A&O details has crafted life long friendships with people all across the country. This bond fosters a sense of ‘family atmosphere’ which I had not anticipated, and which is treasured by all.”
To become a trooper with A&O, riders must have a horse 4 years of age or older and 15 hands or taller. Rider age range is 19-75 and the rider must be physically fit to ride a full day possibly getting on and off numerous times over the course of a day. Applicants must also have a rig to haul their horse to events. To interview for a spot on the team, both horse and rider get a score and both need to score 66.6% or better to be accepted to the team. It can be a horse may pass, but a rider not pass, or vice a versa. But horse and rider teams are welcome to retest and come back to make the team. Frank and two others certify the riders.
Just last month, a training was hosted in San Diego County to prepare riders for the upcoming Coachella and Stagecoach events. Some of the things tested are turns on the forehand and haunches, navigating bridges, teeter totters, cross tarps and other horsemanship style obstacles. Horses must be good loaders and well behaved with other horses and, of course, in big crowds of people. Riders get paid plus they get per diems for working the events. The festivals provide lodging, but many troopers camp in their own rigs to be close to their horses.
To learn more about working as a mounted patrol trooper apply at: https://mountedpatrol.com/employment/
To learn more about Alpha & Omega Mounted Security Patrol and its security services visit: https://mountedpatrol.com/
Alpha & Omega Mounted Security Patrol Festivals / Events Calendar To Date for 2022
• Coachella 1: April 15-17 – Indio, CA
• Coachella 2: April 22-24 – Indio, CA
• Stagecoach: April 29-May 1 – Indio, CA
• Bonnaroo: June 16-19 – Manchester, TN
• Outside Lands: August 5-7 – San Francisco, CA
• Firefly: September 22-25 – Dover, DE
• Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: September 30-October 2 – San Francisco, CA
• Freaky Deaky: October 27-29 – Baytown, TX