On to Greener Pastures

Black Jack, outfitted in his duty saddle, stands ready to police the streets in St. Paul.

Black Jack, St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol’s longest-serving horse, retired on Jan. 31 after 14 years of service.

Patrol officer Gerry Johnson and Black Jack (left) stand beside patrol officer Andy Lewis and Rascal (right) at Black Jack’s retirement ceremony at Meadowview Stables.

The St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol officers and the Grannis family crowd around Black Jack at his retirement ceremony.

St. Paul police horse retires

Black Jack, the St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol's longest-serving horse, retired on Jan. 31 after 14 years of service.

Black Jack, or BJ as he is affectionately known, will return to live with his previous owners, the Grannis family, in Inver Grove Heights.

A retirement ceremony for Black Jack was held at Meadowview Stables in Woodbury and featured a formal "changing of the mount," in which Black Jack's duty saddle was transferred to his replacement, Rascal. 

Big Horseshoes to Fill

Black Jack's retirement was made possible by the arrival of Rascal, a 10 year-old horse donated by Lisa Halvorson. Though Black Jack is still healthy enough to be a police horse, he is the oldest horse on the force and so was the first to be considered for retirement.

Black Jack is an 18 year-old mixed Arabian, Morgan and Holsteiner breed. He is known for his calm disposition, which makes him ideal for crowd control and training new recruits.

"He's been an extremely good horse for training," says patrol officer Gerry Johnson, who has been with the mounted patrol for10 years.

On-the-job Training

The mounted patrol trains new officers every year through an eight-week training program at Meadowview Stables, where the horses are boarded. Most of the new recruits have no previous riding experience, according to patrol officer Johnson. They apply for the program because they are interested in horses, horse training and riding, he says.

The recruits learn to ride all six horses, jump over barriers and even handcuff criminals while atop horseback. But while the officers graduate after eight weeks, they never stop learning.

Unlike K-9 units, which go through a one-time training program, the officers and horses of the mounted patrol train constantly, according to Lynn Sanchelli, a member of the St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol Foundation.

This summer, two of the mounted patrol's officers will be sent to Canada to train with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The foundation sponsors their training.

Caring for the Horses

The St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol is part of the St. Paul Police Department, but many of its expenses are covered by the St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol Foundation.

While the police department pays the mounted patrol officers' salaries, the foundation covers the cost of boarding the horses and veterinary care. The foundation also pays for specialty training equipment and seminars. 

"We provide financial support whatever way we can," says Larry Kelly, head of the foundation. Most of the foundation's funds come through donations.

Policing the Streets

The primary function of the St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol is to participate in day-to-day patrol operations.

"Everything we can do out of a cop car, we can do on a horse," says patrol officer Hank Price, the most recent rider of Black Jack and the current rider of Rascal.

The mounted patrol is especially effective in managing crowd control at large events and has been seen at the Minnesota State Fair, Grand Old Days and the St. Patrick's Day parade. The horse patrol also supports public education and helps foster positive relations between the police and the public. 

The St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol consists of six officers and six horses. It is the only full-time police mounted patrol in Minnesota.

Coming Home

Black Jack's owners, the Grannis family, received a service award from the St. Paul Police Department at Black Jack's retirement.

The family is happy to welcome him back to their farm, although Debra Grannis wonders how he'll adjust to civilian life. 

"He might get a little bored, who knows."

Kaylin Creason can be reached at staffwriter@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7825.

In last week’s edition, a story entitled “St. Paul police horse retires” incorrectly described the training K-9 units receive. According to Officer Jason Brodt of the St. Paul Police Canine Unit, the  officers and dogs train daily, both on-duty and after hours. They also attend bi-monthly unit training days.
The story also misstated which agency pays for boarding the St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol horses. The city of St. Paul pays the boarding fees.
The Review regrets the errors.


Having transferred Black Jack’s duty saddle to Rascal, patrol officers Johnson (back) and Lewis (front) complete the “changing of the mount” ceremony. With code “10-7,” Black Jack (left) is deemed “out of service” and retires from the police force, while with code “10-8,” Rascal(right) is declared “in service” and begins his work with the St. Paul police.

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