Chief Blair is five years old, about 1,500 pounds, 16.2 hands in height and ready for training.
The Percheron/Friesian Cross was donated to the Toronto Police Mounted Unit on Friday, September 25, by the Toronto Blue Jays.
President of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston, said the horse was a gift to the Service for the work they do in the city and the name was to honour former Chief of Police William Blair.
“From my point of view, it was just natural to donate a horse because what can you give the Chief? He was retiring and the Service seemed to appreciate the first horse, so we asked if we could donate another horse as our way to give back and say thank-you,” said Beeston.
The first horse Beeston referred to was Blue Jay, donated by the Blue Jays last year. While Chief Blair will be going in for training starting soon, Blue Jay graduated last week.
His forelock was cut by Training Sergeant Kristopher McCarthy, who said the forelock-cutting ceremony has been a tradition of the Service, since 1886, when horses complete their training and graduate into normal police duties.
McCarthy said that Blue Jay’s training went well and he graduated in just over a year. Other horses often take longer, depending on their temperament.
"Some horses do not graduate from training programs; it’s a difficult process and a huge learning curve for a horse to come from a lush green field to a downtown street,” said the Training Sergeant, who will oversee training for Chief Blair along with his training staff.
The Mounted Unit has 28 horses, of which four have been donated to the Service.
All horses are used for crowd control, community response, and Divisional support, as well as for police and public ceremonial duties, for which they need to have emotional stability along with athleticism, explained McCarthy. This is why the Service usually chooses horses that are draught horses, like a Clydesdale, crossed with an athletic breed, such as a Thoroughbred.
Former Chief Blair was also in attendance to see Chief Blair the horse. “This is a really great day and the Blue Jays have been extremely generous in donating first Blue Jay and now this horse to the Service,” said Blair, who joked that he couldn’t understand why the long faces at the stables on such a happy occasion. Blair said that he was happy that the Blair name would continue with the donation of the new horse, since his family has been with the police and firefighters for the last century.