Your Spurs, Sir!

RCMP high browns - Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection


As a someone who spent a few years as a Drill Instructor at “Depot,” albeit it does seem like a hundred years ago, and having been involved with many parades over the ensuing years and the same goes for many like me, when preparing troops for parade the eyes always do a quick check of the members kit!





Stetson band on correctly, Sam Brownes and lanyards aligned correctly and most importantly, glancing down to see if the spurs are on the right feet.

2013 - Photograph of two RCMP Cadets preparing to march into the "Depot" Drill Hall (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

2013 – Photograph of two RCMP Cadets preparing to march into the “Depot” Drill Hall (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

I was fortunate enough to be invited along with Ralph’s friend veteran Staff Sergeant Jack Robinson, Reg # 29925, to meet with veteran Staff Sergeant Ralph Cave, Reg #16736, at his family home in Surrey, BC, before he was hospitalized and passed away in October 2010.   Ralph Cave is one of those legends of the Force and has been written about on many occasions.

He served as a gunner during WWII. His old friend Sam Hobbs tells the story that when Ralph was in the Navy and spending some time in Egypt, perhaps slightly in his cups, Ralph decided to ride a donkey, he believed he was saving it from abuse from the owner. He ended up doing some time in the “pokey” for his effort in the rescue.

Photograph of the British Columbia Provincial Police cap badge (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of the British Columbia Provincial Police cap badge (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

After the war, he joined the BC Provincial Police and was absorbed into the RCMP upon the amalgamation of the two Forces. He was one of the original eighteen members of Cloverdale (Surrey) Detachment when the Force took over from the Surrey Municipal Police.   Ralph was a known for his horsemanship and spent twenty years off and on, either at “Depot” or on the Musical Ride, eventually becoming the Riding Master.   Those that worked with Ralph always comment on what a gentleman he was.   It was said that during his time on the Musical Ride he was the most photographed man in the Force.

Jack Robinson remembers during the 125th Anniversary of the Force celebrations the following; I recall going out with Ralph and Darren Campbell, then a constable and now the Corps Sergeant Major, in 1998, we were looking at horses. We wanted to have mounted members in Cloverdale for the 125th anniversary of the Force. One particular horse Ralph got on, he was 74 years of age and hadn’t risen a horse for about 10 years, well, he got on and made this horse do things that the owner didn’t know it could do. He was a joy to watch on a horse.”

Photograph of

Photograph of Staff Sergeant Ralph Cave (Ret’d) at 74 years of age. (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

During our visit with Ralph he regaled both of us with stories of the Ride. Pictures of members on horses were on display. His memory was starting to slip a bit, when asked who the members were on the horses, he had a hard time, but not the names of the horses, he knew them all.

One of the stories he told always stuck with me.   Ralph was riding “Burmese” when the Force presented her to the Queen during the Musical Ride tour of 1969.   It was Ralph’s original suggestion that the Force should present a horse to the Queen. Telling the story he had a quiet chuckle and confided that Princess Anne, quite an accomplished rider in her own right, had asked Commissioner Lindsay why his spurs were on backwards?

Photograph of Queen Elizabeth receiving Burmese from the RCMP

All these years later, veteran Mel McIntosh, Reg # 23729, has provided the Vets web site with some photographs of the 1969 Musical Ride tour and “Burmese” performing being ridden by Corporal John Hossfeld.   Later, Mel told me about Commissioner Lindsay being caught with his spurs on the wrong feet.     Members being members, this violation of the Uniform and Dress Manual, especially by the Commissioner, could not go unrecognized.   One of the Ride members, an aspiring cartoonist, put pencil to paper.   Mel has provided a copy of that cartoon which has been copied many times over. I have tried to add a little definition to it.   So, almost forty-six years later here is a bit of humorous RCMP history…..”Your Spurs, Sir!” I wonder if Commissioner Lindsay ever saw it and had laugh or harrumphed it, or was it stuffed away in the members of the Musical Ride’s tack boxes till they left the Ride?


If you have Musical Ride stories that we could post as a new webpage, please email Ric Hall at

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage