Sunshine Coast RCMP Const. Ashley Taylor will bid a tearful farewell to the Sunshine Coast this month as she sets off on a new adventure with the RCMP Musical Ride in Ottawa.
Taylor came to the Coast as a new recruit in 2007 and quickly got involved in the community through biking in the Cops for Cancer event.
She later became a First Nations liaison officer, RCMP Youth Academy liaison, a DARE program leader, and for a time was responsible for training new recruits.
While she will be sad to leave the community she credits for much of her personal growth, she’s also excited about pursuing a new challenge that takes her back to Ottawa, where her family lives.
Taylor’s new challenge will be learning how to ride and command a horse to make many precise movements alongside 31 other horses in the RCMP Musical Ride.
Before going to the tryouts earlier this year, Taylor had never ridden a horse.
“The five-week tryout in January was eye opening,” Taylor said, noting she rode different horses daily and learned the basics of horsemanship during the intensive five-week selection process.
“It was very mentally challenging. It seemed like one day you’d get a horse that was awesome and you’d look impressive and then the next day you’d get a different horse that you couldn’t get to do anything you wanted.”
While Taylor didn’t learn all she needed to know about horseback riding during those five weeks in January she demonstrated that she’s teachable, which was enough to secure her a spot.
Most officers who sign up for a three-year tour with the Musical Ride have little to no experience on a horse, but through rigorous training they become skilled riders.
It was last year that a friend suggested Taylor think about trying out for the Musical Ride because the training schedule works well for officers who want to upgrade their schooling. Taylor wanted to go back to school to get her masters of arts and leadership.
The schooling and the Musical Ride both fell into place for Taylor this year. She plans to study while she’s stationed in Ontario.
The Musical Ride is a three-year assignment that sees officers train in Ottawa half the year and travel to cities and towns across Canada to perform during the other half.
Taylor’s last day on the job at the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment will be May 15. In June she’ll start her training in Ottawa.
She said she will miss the “amazing community” she’s come to know on the Coast adding, “this is not an easy place to leave.”
“I got to work with those crazy, awesome red surge gala ladies and see how the community works together,” she said referring to her work with Cops for Cancer. “It gives you goose bumps to see how well they work together and raise such a ridiculous amount of money for kids with cancer. That gave me a pretty good insight into the Sunshine Coast community and how capable they are.”
She said the people here helped her grow as a person and a police officer, and that her time with the Sechelt Indian Band was poignant.
“That was definitely the role that most impacted me personally. It was the role that I think I changed the most in my way of policing and how I did business,” Taylor said.
In the beginning she felt she had to be strict and stern to be a successful police officer.
“Working with chief and council and seeing how they led and how they dealt with different situations gave me something to also follow and I just realized how much more good can come of getting to know people and dialoguing with people and learning what’s important to the community,” Taylor said. “I felt very safe working in that community and also part of something bigger than just policing.”
The Sunshine Coast community definitely impacted the 28-year-old officer.
“What I’ll miss most about the Sunshine Coast is the community,” Taylor said. “It’s a very unique blend of people who interact and get things accomplished and people here sincerely care.”
She invites any Coasters, if they’re ever in Ottawa, to come and visit her at the Musical Ride stables.
“They can come and meet my horse and we can spend some time together,” she said.
Taylor will appear on tour with the Musical Ride during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
© Coast Reporter