Along about the turn of the century, a man with a dream came to the Expo! His dream was to formulate a combined group of mounted law officers, stretching across the state, and far beyond local jurisdictions. That man was Lorenzo Veal II, who at that time was a Detective Lieutenant with the Michigan State Police. He was given the go-ahead by then Expo co-chairs, Ann Louise Budd and Beverly Grunheid and the Combined Mounted Police Unit was formed! With the exception of 2015, this group has presented the colors at every Expo since!
This photo is from the 2003 Michigan Horse Expo, with Detective Lieutenant Veal on the left! From this humble beginning, the group has grown….to where the number of mounted officers has reached almost 100, representing many, many counties throughout Michigan. From presenting the Colors only on Saturday, the performances have grown as well. As their popularity increased, the Combined Mounted Police Unit performed the Opening Ceremony on Friday, as well as presenting the Colors on Sunday. When the Saturday evening entertainment program was initiated, the Mounted Police Unit provided the opening act, with, as various times, a drill presentation, and the Color presentation. Also from this Combined Mounted Police Unit, other exciting units have developed, including the Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard. This group has been invited to, and participated in two Presidential Inaugural Parades in 2009, again in 2013 and again in 2017 representing Michigan!
In 2013, 20 mounted officers and their horses, plus a support staff, made the trek to Washington, DC, as shown in the photo above. A similar number of officers and riders made the trip in 2009, with many participating in both parades, representing not only mounted law officers, but Michigan, and the Michigan Horse Council….the group carried not only the US flag and Michigan flag, but the Michigan Horse Council flag, as well. And since two members of the Toronto, Ontario, Canada mounted police unit also participated with the Michigan group, it was an international group! Another evolvement of the Combined Mounted Police Unit was a Combined Mounted Police Drill Team. This team participated in several mounted police competitions, including at the Michigan State Fair and in Kentucky. Two members of the Toronto Mounted Police started riding in the drills with the group, and therefore were invited to participate with them in the Inaugural Parades!
For the 2017 Expo, invitations are going out to all Sheriff Departments across the state, inviting them, if they have a mounted unit, to participate as a part of the Combined Mounted Police Unit. This Unit, still under the guidance of Detective-Lieutenant (retired) Lorenzo Veal II.