A wild mustang horse from Wyoming is living its best life serving the Big Apple as part of the NYPD’s mounted unit.
The 9-year-old gelding named Gomez spent the early part of his life roaming the plains of southern Wyoming in the Salt Wells Creek herd near Green River before being trained for police work.
Gomez was later captured and trained in Nevada. In 2019, he was deployed by the NYPD to patrol the heart of New York City.
“We walk straight from the barn, straight to Times Square,” said Mounted Officer Jessica Olivieri, Gomez’s handler and partner.
Gomez, who is technically an NYPD officer, works alongside 20 other horses in Manhattan’s Mounted Unit Troop B. His stable is located on 53rd Street — a few blocks from Times Square.
“He’s also considered a police officer himself,” Olivieri said. “So anything that’s done to him, it’s the same as doing that to a police officer.”
The black mustang’s transition to its new surroundings wasn’t exactly simple.
The horse was first captured by the Bureau of Land Management when he was 2 years old and was gentled in a Nevada correctional prison program before being acquired by New York’s Pelham Bay training facilities.
After being immersed in the city environment for a period of two years, Gomez is now well-adapted to the sights and sounds of the city.
Gomez is well cared for, being fed and exercised at the stables, which are replete with wash bays, a hay loft, stalls and a round pen for exercise.
On patrol, the gelding walks a five- to six-hour beat with her handler four to five days a week.
“The mounted unit is citywide, so I can be put anywhere in the city, I can be in any borough,” Officer Olivieri said. “We just put them in the trailer, and we’ll go to a different borough that day.”
Olivieri, who grew up riding horses in Long Island, said the main purpose of the mounted unit is to patrol the city rather than make arrests. The officer said the unit is well received by the public.
“They love us out there, they really do,” Olivieri said about the public. “And you know, we can see above everyone else, so it’s a huge positive to the community.”
Olivieri said riding a wild mustang is a bit more difficult than riding a normal horse.
“I had never ridden a mustang before coming to the mounted unit,” she said. “Just his personality, and even out on the street, it’s completely different from your average horse. He’s definitely more stubborn. Once he started trusting me, he responded to everything that I asked.”