Horses go to winning bidder

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Lady and Scooter are looking for new homes, and the Steamboat Springs mounted police patrol is unsaddling.

Lady and Scooter are a pair of quarter horse mares that have served as the trusty steeds for Steamboat police officers on horseback. They are most evident at large public events such as the free summer concerts and weekly rodeos. Now, the horses, along with their tack and even their trailer, are being offered for sale by the city.

"It is coming to an end," Detective Bob DelValle confirmed Friday. "It's all about the available money, and we just haven't had the interest level" needed to sustain the mounted patrol.

DelValle was one of the original members of the mounted patrol when former Sgt. Bob Belknap formed it in the late 1980s. The new officers coming onto the police force just don't have a background in riding, DelValle said, and there's almost no one to share the shifts with.

Capt. Joel Rae continues to patrol from horseback on occasion, but as a practical matter, DelValle is the Lone Ranger.

DelValle is optimistic that Lady and Scooter will find new homes. The most desirable scenario, he said, is that one bidder will acquire both horses and all the equipment owned by the city. Both horses are registered quarterhorses, and Lady, at 8 years old, is in her prime.

"She's been a roper, and she's an energetic horse," DelValle said. "She'd be best for an experienced rider."

The minimum bid for Lady is $1,000.

Scooter is a different story. She's 23 years old and has earned her retirement. She's a good saddle horse for a young boy or girl -- "she's bombproof," DelValle said, meaning nothing upsets her. He wants to make sure she doesn't get thrown into an outfitter's string of packhorses. Most of all, he's seeking assurances she won't be shipped to the rendering plant.

Scooter gets thrown into the deal for no charge.

Also up for bid is a 1989 Trail Magic two-horse trailer (minimum bid $800), two Colorado Saddlery saddles ($350 each) and miscellaneous tack. The city will accept a minimum bid of $2,300 for both horses and all the equipment. Inspection of the equipment and horses can be arranged by calling DelValle or Rae between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at 879-4344.

Sealed bids may be delivered to City Hall to the attention of Anne Small by 2 p.m. Dec. 15. All envelopes should be marked "Mounted Patrol Surplus Items." The successful bidder must pay with cash or a cashier's check.

Looking back, DelValle thinks the mounted patrol was a good way to increase police officer interaction with the public.

"It was a very effective means of crowd control," he said. "But it was primarily public relations. People would always tell us, 'It's so nice to see you on horseback.' It broke down barriers."

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