The mounted unit is a holdover from the days when horses were the only mode of transportation, Linquata said. As cars and motorcycles became more popular, the state police felt the horses were still useful because of several advantages, like crowd control or searches for missing people in wooded areas outside the cities or in Western Massachusetts.
And practically speaking, the horses travel better in the sand at beaches including Lynn, Nahant and Carson Beach in South Boston. And at Salisbury state park, they can easily cover all the terrains from the dunes to the campground to the parking lot and the streets.
The unit had been maintained with donated horses, typically from people who could not afford or could not keep them any more. A few were retired race horses. Several of the current younger horses, including Scout, were purchased as yearlings in Canada.
Emma Nett, 8, of West Boylston, patted Scout at the Salisbury Beach campground as her straw-blonde hair blew in the wind. Scout put his snout on her head like he wanted to chew on her hair, and then turned away, almost teasing.
“He likes blonde hair,” McCann said to her. “It’s his favorite flavor. He thinks it’s hay.”