Rangers Mounted Unit seeks annual funds

PARKSIDE—The Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit—stabled at Franklin Park—is once again trying to avoid a sunset ride into retirement.

An Oct. 16 fundraiser and auction, organized by the Friends of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit, is aiming to keep the horses on the force by raising $155,000 every year.

The Mounted Unit once had over 12 patrol horses and 24 year-round park rangers. Due to budget constraints, the program has been halved and has been under frequent threat of total disbandment. While the City pays the salaries of the 12 full-time rangers, the Friends of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit group has taken on the responsibility for covering all horse-related expenses, including veterinary care and food.

For the first time, the Friends are also offering “adoptions,” or sponsorships, of specific horses on the force: Baron #207, Frederick #915, Jacob #598, Liberty #911, Mystic #728 and Winston #126. A short bio and picture of each horse is available online for potential sponsors to browse.

Julia Donahue, head of the friends group, did not return a Gazette phone call.

When the Mounted Unit faced disbandment in 2010, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy raised $155,000 in donations to maintain the unit through the next year. The friends group was formed to shoulder some of the responsibility, allowing the Emerald Necklace Conservancy to focus on the entire park system.

While mounted rangers spend most of their time on Boston Common in downtown Boston, they are also a regular fixture at JP parks. The horses travel from Franklin Park in a trailer.

The Fall Soiree to benefit the Mounted Unit is scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Parkman House at 33 Beacon St. For more information, see savebostonshorses.org.

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