Riding atop his 12-year-old American quarter horse, Sgt. David Natividad is one of four officers appointed to the Orange Police Department’s new mounted unit.
Have you always ridden horses?
I rode off and on throughout my whole life but never owned a horse. I chose Maximus based on his personality, regarding his responsiveness and very calm demeanor. He doesn’t get excited about much. It’s a building of a relationship between rider and horse. Horses are always looking for who the leader is.
You’ve been on the force for 30 years. What does your family think about your new responsibility?
My grandkids were very excited. I board my horse locally, and they love to see him at “the barn,” as we call it.
Did you have to pay for the horse yourself?
Yes. The police department’s expenses are minimal—select items on the horses and our uniforms. I’m training five to six days a week for an hour or more, on my own time.
What is the role of the mounted unit?
This is not a primary assignment for anyone—this is an ancillary assignment.
So this is an additional responsibility that we’ll do once a month at regional trainings and during deployments. We first deployed last month after completing a weeklong training course with the California Mounted Officers Association.
In what sort of situations would the unit be sent out?
It’s likely we’ll use the horses for special events that have anything to do with the (Orange) Plaza: tree lighting, concerts in the park, things like that. The horses are a deterrent (to criminal activity) because we can see from an elevated position. It makes people feel protected. And they’re great for community relations.