It was a coming home party of sorts, albeit on horseback, for two police officers who are currently part of the RCMP Musical Ride.
Born and raised in Langley, Const. Justine Rogawski was pretty excited to share the experience with her mother, sisters, and even her former Grade 6 teacher from Langley Fine Arts School last Friday – during one of two Musical Ride presentations at Thunderbird Show Park.
“It was quiet exciting to be able to show for them,” she said.
It was growing up on the Salmon River Ranch, just on the outskirts of Fort Langley, where Rogawski first learned to ride and began her life-long love affair with horses.
“We all had horses, so this is quite a dream come true for me,” she said following the first of two sold-out shows in her hometown.
Rogawski joined the RCMP in 2012 and was initially posted to Beaumont, Alta. She began training with the ride last year, and is currently in her first of two years touring with the unit.
Given her love of horses, she hopes that posting can be extended.
“It’s been quite an exciting first tour and a learning experience,” she shared, noting this summer has been spent primarily touring Ontario and B.C.
She rides Honour, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare standing 16.2 hands high, who like Rogawski is a relative newbie to the Musical Ride. Honour joined the team in 2017, a year before her rider.
Rogawski described Honour as “very beautiful” but noted her horse has “some interesting quirk” that she’s had to get used to.
They’ve been working together since January, and having had some time to get to know each other, Rogawski said “I’d say we’re a pretty good team.”
Rogawski wasn’t the only Mountie on the Musical Ride with ties to Langley.
She was joined by Const. Derek Quilley, who joined the force 10 years ago and was initially stationed in Langley.
He trained with the Langley RCMP, then spent time with the provincial traffic unit based in Langley – living in and serving in this community for three years before joining the musical ride – the first time.
Yes, the first time. He’s actually on his second go-round with the mounted unit, returning last year after a four-year break to pursue small-town policing in Powell River.
“The stars aligned and I had the opportunity to come back to the Musical Ride again,” he said. “I hope to stay long term,” and make this a career choice. “But we’ll see. As for now, I have at least two more years.”
Quilley doesn’t have a designated horse. He’s what’s called a swing rider, moving from position to position, and horse to horse, to cover off when fellow riders are absent, work the late shift, or need a day off.
“It’s lovely. It means you get to ride them all and experience the whole shebang.,” he told the Langley Advance.
The trip to B.C., and specifically the shows in Langley mean a lot for this constable, too.
It was great to have breakfasts, spend some time socializing, and share the magic of the shows with many friends and family from the area.
But performing in the ride again at tbird was what held the most sentimentality.
When the Musical Ride was in Langley four years ago, he was part of the team, alongside his brother, Matthew. But what makes it especially poignant is that his grandfather, a retired Mountie, was a special guest at that show. Quilley was able to offer a speech in his honouring from horseback.
“It’s always nice to come back, and Langley is kind of like home away from home,” he said. “But that was my all-time favourite show.”