Dillon sergeant patrols with ‘exceptional horse’
summit daily news
Dillon police sergeant Wendy Kipple said she has always loved conducting horse-mounted patrol because it’s “a catalyst to interact with the citizens and the kids.”
“Nobody wants to pet my patrol car,” she laughed.
So when her 9-year-old horse Ricochet became ill and passed away last August, she feared it was the end of the mounted patrol program.
“He was a pretty popular horse,” she said. “Kids would see him coming and would run out from everywhere… he loved kids.”
Kipple grew up riding horses, and started the mounted patrol program in Dillon when she joined the force in 1993. Before that, she rode for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. Almost 20 years later, Kipple said she is the only officer in Summit County who still rides mounted patrol. The sheriff’s office’s program was disbanded a while back, as well as one that used to run in Breckenridge.
After worrying the program she had kept alive was over, Kipple’s friend Nancy Newport said she had the perfect horse, free of charge: a Norwegian Fjord named Red Zinnia. The horse was a dispersal of Susan Cargill’s estate, of Cargill, Incorporated.
Another friend, Beth Beymer, offered to keep the horse for the winter and train her for mounted patrol.
“I was blown away,” Kipple said. “It was hard for me to believe someone would give me such a generous gift.”
Norwegian Fjords are usually too small to be used for patrol. But at 5-feet tall, Zinnia is bigger than most in her breed. Kipple said the lineage is one of the oldest and purest breeds in the world, domesticated over 4,000 years ago as farming horses. Fjords have even been found in ancient Viking burial sites.
To Kipple’s knowledge, Zinnia is the only in her breed being used for mounted patrol. The partnership is so unusual, in fact, Kipple and Zinnia were just featured on the cover of the Fjord Herald, a quarterly publication about the breed.
Zinnia is very gentle and has a great temperament, Kipple said. On a test ride around Dillon a few weeks ago, the horse wasn’t bothered by sights or sounds; Kipple was a little worried the water and boats would make her nervous like they had Ricochet.
Kipple has not doubt Zinnia will make a great patrol horse, and said she’s looking forward to her new partnership. Zinnia’s first official day on duty is next Saturday at the Town of Dillon’s welcome party for the horse. Kipple said the event will be a not only serve as a welcoming ceremony, but as a celebration of her past patrol horses: Ricochet, Lady Brass and Honey. Cake, refreshments and Zinnia’s first year trading card will be available. Kipple said a new card will be produced every year.
Kipple and Zinnia start mounted patrol June 19, and will continue every Sunday throughout the summer.
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