If you've spent much time in Cameron Park, chances are you've seen the Park Ranger horses on patrol. A part of the Ranger tradition in Waco since 1986, the horses help out in a variety of ways, particularly transporting their human companions and acting as a deterrent to diffuse any tense situations that may arise.
Foremost among the Ranger horses is Chico, who has been with the unit for seven years. Ranger Lanny French has faithfully served Waco's Park Rangers since 1994 and is the primary caretaker of these delightfully personable animals.
So you're a horse, Chico!
Not just a horse. I'm a Park Ranger horse. It's kind of a big deal. And I'm also a registered quarter horse, but that's another story.
What's it like working as a Ranger horse?
It's a pretty small group so that's nice and cozy. There are only two of us - just Petey and me.
Yes, Petey. No last name, just Petey. The guy's one-of-a-kind.
And how long has he been with you?
Lanny French (our only human in the mounted division) recruited Petey to our team in February of 2012. He's pretty young yet, but he's a good addition to the force. He appreciates the pecking order.
There's a pecking order?
Oh, there's always a pecking order with horses. But Petey's good about not challenging it much, so we get along.
I guess it's fairly easy to be humble when you're at the bottom of the totem poll.
Well, I wouldn't know, but I suppose so. And if he steps out of line I'm bigger than he is. So we have an understanding. Besides, it's not as if he has the Thumbprint of a Prophet.
Thumbprint of a Prophet? What's that?
See the little notch in my neck here? That's what it's called. It's super rare and basically just means that I'm better than everyone else.
Sounds like congratulations are in order.
Tell me more about life with the Park Rangers. What's your routine?
We work pretty much every weekday. Petey and I switch off, each taking half the day to work and half of the day for some R&R.
And what's your job description?
Well, we aren't cops, but we do act as a deterrent to criminal activity. And they say that one man on a horse is as good as six on the ground, so people aren't likely to try anything when we're around. Plus I tend to be pretty good at making people comfortable, if I do say so myself. That tends to be helpful in diffusing tense situations, should they arise.
So you like people?
Do I ever. Especially kids. We see a lot of them when we're out in Cameron Park. Families have started coming out in droves to spend time here, what with all the improvements the park has undergone. And, of course, there are all the people who come out here just hoping to catch a glimpse of my glossy back mane.
Do you ever let kids tour your stable?
Oh sure, especially during camps and special events. Can you believe; some kids have never seen a horse before! Fortunately, fine equine specimen that I am, I feel quite confident serving as an ambassador for my breed.
And tell me about Lanny. You mentioned he's responsible for you and Petey.
Absolutely. Lanny's great. Really nice guy. He takes good care of us, shoes us, and serves as our personal trainer and dietician to ensure we maintain our sleek figures. And he deals with all of our minor vaccinations. Quite the Renaissance man.
Sounds like it. What about your diet?
Typical horse stuff for the most part. No sugar cubes, sadly. Lanny makes sure that what we're eating gives us the most bang for our calorie, so to whinny. It takes no small amount of discipline to get a body like this. We're sort of like Olympic athletes, but with extra legs.
So the uneven bars probably aren't really your thing.
Probably not yours, either.
Touché. Well, Chico, do you have any closing words for us?
Did I mention that they say a man on a horse is better than six on the ground?
Yes you did.
Then that's about all I've got then. Just remember the pecking order. Come see me at Cameron Park sometime and make sure to say hi!