MANCHESTER, NH — With a rake in one hand and a bucket in the other, Officer Kelly McKenney begins her day cleaning stalls inside a barn on the edge of Manchester, New Hampshire. At first glance, it doesn’t look like typical police work, but this is how Officer McKenney starts each day.
“I clean stalls for a living. My life is always about dealing with poop,” she jokingly said as she started filling water buckets in the stall she was standing in.
For more than a decade, McKenney has been a member of the Manchester Police Department’s Mounted Patrol. Having ridden horses since she was a kid made McKenney a perfect candidate for this very small unit home to two incredibly large Clydesdales, General and Bruno.
“We trust each other very much; they’ll do anything I ask,” McKenney said about the two 1,800- pound horses who she cares for and works with daily.
Over the years, McKenney has learned that these horses, for as big as they are, help break down barriers between her department and the community. As a community police officer, her job is to create positive experiences for the public. Something, especially the last few years, hasn’t always been easy.
“Any type of positive community policing is the way to go. The horses help bring us a little closer together, people who would never talk to an officer would stop and pet the horse,” she said.
So, in an effort to bridge that gap, McKenney recently expanded her team, bringing on a very unlikely candidate: a 20-year-old Shetland pony named Eddy.
“He just brings a smile to everyone’s face when they see him,” she said.
At 600 pounds, Eddy is about half the size of his two counterparts General and Bruce. His official title with the department is “Comfort Pony.” The hope is that because of his size, Eddy will be able to make regular visits to places like schools and nursing homes.
“Eddy is going to be perfect; he’ll be able to get into the buildings. He’s not as intimidating either,” she remarked.
There will still be a need for both General and Bruno in this mounted patrol. After all, Eddy isn’t the fastest horse out there. Regardless of his size though, he is already standing toe-to-toe with his colleagues.
“Who doesn’t love a pony.”