ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN
Kelly Zacharkiw (centre) performs with the RCMP Musical Ride in front of her hometown crowd at Westman Place on Thursday during the North American Belgian Championship.
Like many of the riders in the RCMP Musical Ride, a smile beamed out from under Kelly Zacharkiw’s broad-brimmed Stetson hat as she guided her mount Shadow through a series of complicated manoeuvres at the Keystone Centre.
The RCMP Musical Ride was the opening show for Thursday’s competition at the North American Belgian Championship.
This is Zacharkiw’s first year on the tour and she has already performed in Germany, before Queen Elizabeth in England and throughout Canada and the United States.
But this is the first time the 37-year-old has performed in front of her hometown crowd. Zacharkiw lived in Brandon for 15 years and still considers Brandon to be her home.
"I saw the Musical Ride in Brandon years ago and just watching them almost brought me to tears. I was in awe of how proud you can feel by watching other people perform and represent Canada," Zacharkiw said.
In order to be selected for the tour, applicants have to be an RCMP officer with at least two years of active police work. More than 500 people apply to the tour every year, but only 16 to 18 are selected.
The RCMP Musical Ride consists of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drills choreographed to music and performed by 32 riders and horses.
The origins of the Musical Ride dates back to the late 1800s, but was first put on public display in 1901.
Zacharkiw said that being a part of the tour is the best choice she ever made and that the 35 people involved with the tour are like a big family.
"Every day I go to work and I almost giggle because I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to do this every day," Zacharkiw said.
"Putting on the red surge gives you a sense of pride because you are representing Canada. Sometimes I can be sitting with the Canadian flag flying or O Canada playing and it feels surreal that I’m actually doing this, and that I am a part of Canada."
The musical ride will perform at Morris Saturday, at Deloraine July 25, at Wasagaming July 29, at McCreary July 31, at Lundar Aug. 2, at Winnipeg Aug. 3-4, at Teulon Aug. 4, at Beausejour Aug. 5, at West St. Paul Aug. 6 and at Carman Aug. 8.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 20, 2012