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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State officers Lyndon and Duke take on training

Cpls.+Aleysha+Ortiz+%28Left%29+and+Haley+McClaran+%28Right%29+stroll+with+Lyndon+and+Duke+at+Sewell+Park%2C+Friday%2C+April+12%2C+2024%2C+in+San+Marcos%2C+Texas.
Brianna Chavez
Cpls. Aleysha Ortiz (Left) and Haley McClaran (Right) stroll with Lyndon and Duke at Sewell Park, Friday, April 12, 2024, in San Marcos, Texas.

In December 2023, The University Star spoke with Cpls. Aleysha Ortiz and Haley McClaran as they began to work daily with horses Lyndon and Duke at Freeman Ranch.

Since then, the tall and majestic Texas State University Police officers Lyndon and Duke trotted their hooves around campus, learning how to keep Bobcats safe.

Texas State is the first Texas university and first D1 university to have a mounted horse patrol unit and an all-female unit.

Over a year ago, Assistant Chief Daniel Benitez proposed the idea of having a mounted patrol unit and asked for input from the team. Multiple officers, including Ortiz and McClaran, responded with great interest.

“We love the horses and it’s just a new way of policing,” McClaran said. “A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do what we’re doing, so it’s hard work and you feel accomplished.”

McClaran said the type of training varies daily. One day, they can be training on The Quad, meeting new people and maneuvering through crowds. The next, they could be at Freeman Ranch, witnessing a mock protest put on by student workers.

“They pick up the energy that you’re giving, even if you’re not aware of it,” McClaran said. “It could be a trash bag, a flag, chanting or yelling. We work on that stuff every day.”

Training has been in progress since December 2023, taking place between Freeman Ranch and Manor, Texas with Mounted Patrol International.

Lyndon and Duke will provide a new sense of security to the Bobcat community, giving Ortiz and McClaran a higher view of their surroundings to prevent crime, stop burglaries and view emergencies that wouldn’t be able to be seen by a ground officer.

McClaran rides with 10-year-old Duke, who is sensitive and attentive to his environment. Ortiz rides with 5-year-old Lyndon, who is playful and isn’t afraid to take the first step.

In addition to Ortiz and McClaran, student workers play a role in taking care of the horses.

Danielle Brown, a wildlife biology sophomore, helps throughout the week by feeding, picking up after the horses, cleaning the area and grooming.

Student workers watch Ortiz and McClaran train the horses and help out with training by creating scenarios to prepare the new officers for whatever may come their way.

“You learn something new every day you’re there with them,” Brown said. “It’s like riding a bike. Once you get started, it’s just natural at that point.”

McClaran said she’s already noticed a positive reaction as she rides Duke around campus. Lyndon and Duke made students less afraid to come up to the officers to ask for help or to simply just chat.

“Everybody loves being around them and we’ve talked to way more people with the horses,” McClaran said. “People let their guard down and have a conversation about anything; it doesn’t have to be complicated all the time.”

The next big events for Lyndon and Duke are spring graduation and the upcoming presidential debate in the fall. For now, the two recruits have some more training to do and some more hay to eat.

“Hopefully by the fall you’ll see us,” Ortiz said. “We’re trying to prepare the horses for what’s to come.”

Belgian horses Lyndon and Duke will be sworn in on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at Freeman Ranch in San Marcos, Texas.

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