Deputies Mount Up to Patrol Horse Trails


Sheriff’s deputies have started mounted patrols along the city’s equestrian trails, prompted by complaints that people were riding motorcycles and other off-road vehicles on the dirt paths.

Wearing their sidearms and gear, deputies Saturday morning saddled up their steeds and hit the city’s horse trails for their first mounted patrol of the year.

With high visibility and all-terrain mobility, deputies say the purpose of the patrol is not so much to make arrests, but to make sure the city’s trails are safe, used properly and free from motor vehicles. The weekend’s first patrol saw no arrests and was deemed a success.


“We ran into a lot of equestrian people, and they were happy to see us,” said Lt. Paul Sullivan, chief of police services in San Juan Capistrano.

Deputy Frank Nin and an assigned reserve deputy, both part of the sheriff’s 28-member mounted patrol team, are scheduled to ride the trails weekly in San Juan Capistrano, with the days varying from Friday through Sunday.

Deputies selected for the countywide team must have their own mount. The horses and their riders try-out for the team and are required to pass a special sensory training course to ensure the steeds can react properly and perform their duties in crowded or noisy conditions.

The patrols are contracted out to various cities in the county, either on a regular patrol or case-by-case basis.

Other deputies and their 1,200-pound partners can be seen patrolling beaches, parks and trails throughout the county, especially on holidays or at special events in the summer.

“A lot of it is preventive patrol,” said Sgt. Randy McLennan, who is in charge of the sheriff’s mounted team. “The mounted patrol has a calming effect on people.”


Because Deputy Nin is already assigned to patrol San Juan Capistrano and rides with a reserve officer, the mounted patrol program will not cost the city any additional money.