South Orangetown Central School District

South Orangetown Middle School sixth-graders were treated to a presentation by four Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol officers and their equine partners on November 30, as part of their social studies unit on prehistoric civilizations.

“Ms. Nandlal brought the mounted police so we could learn how they train their horses and make connections to ancient man,” explained Kayla M.

“Ancient man used to domesticate animals for food and they used horses for transportation and trade,” Aoife K. added.

The officers demonstrated a variety of techniques used for crowd control. They explained that, in nature, horses are prey and their instincts are to run. However, police horses are able to assist with crowd control, as well as search and rescue in the mountains, because of the intensive training they receive. And although mounted units use draft horses, which are bred for work, just 1 in 10 horses make it through the 60-day trial period.

Earlier this year, Ms. Nandlal and her social studies colleagues were brainstorming ways to connect the curriculum with animals, when SOMS Guidance Secretary Virginia Bonardi mentioned that her son, Officer Joe Bonardi, was a member of the Sheriff’s mounted unit and a SOMS alumnus. “It was a perfect fit because we’ve been talking about how the domestication of animals helped humans transition from nomads to settlement.”

The visitors made an impact. Jill H. noted, “It’s not every day that we get horses coming to our school!”

Four mounted police officers face a crowd of students for outdoor lesson