NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Ever since a young age, Jaclyn Bird has always been outside riding horses. Growing up in West Deptford, N.J., she followed in her older sister’s footsteps and began riding when she was 8 years old.

Although it was an activity for fun when she first started, Bird has become more serious about horseback riding. She started competing at schooling shows and smaller competitions when she was 12 years old. She continued to compete in dressage and jumping through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) at Rutgers University.

Always wanting to be close to home and near her family, Bird decided to attend Rutgers University for her undergraduate education. She became involved in on-campus activities like the Equestrian team and the Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club.

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During the second semester of freshman year, she joined the Rutgers University Mounted Patrol. The Rutgers Mounted Patrol is the only student-run mounted patrol service in the entire nation, and it is an incredible opportunity of which Bird has enjoyed being a part. She always liked the premise of being a community service officer in order to help and impact the Rutgers community on a daily basis.

Bird explained that the process of becoming a Mounted Patrol Officer was a rigorous and challenging journey. First, if accepted to the Community Service Officer program, there is a written test based on general horse knowledge and related situations. After passing the written exam, there is an interview with the supervisors of the Mounted Patrol, followed by an intense riding exam to ensure the new service officers are competent in their riding and horse management skills.

Once she was qualified, Bird had to attend training, alongside other police and security officers, to officially become a Community Service Officer.

Bird explained that there are three horses that are a part of the mounted patrol unit: Norman, Austin, and Niko, all from the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. The horses are cared for and ridden by the 14 members of the Mounted Patrol Unit.

Two officers and two horses go out daily and patrol around the Cook/Douglass campus. Bird describes how she helps up to 30 people a day, such as giving directions or allowing someone to pet a horse for the first time. She loves being a part of such a light-hearted experience, and believes in the importance of having this positive association with law enforcement and horses.

She became Company Supervisor of the Mounted Patrol, sharing this responsibility with junior Victoria Perez.

In May she graduated with a degree in Animal Science with a concentration in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Research. She is applying to vet school this summer.

She also is raised a German Shepard named Henry, for the Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club.

Bird was selected to be an executive aide, and spent time driving President Barchi, Chancellor Dutta, and all the other chancellors around campus and other locations. “Some of my favorite memories are going to President Barchi’s house with the Mounted Patrol horses for breakfast before every homecoming,” she said.

When she first came to Rutgers, she was not confident it was the right decision. However, four years later, she absolutely loves Rutgers and has fond memories of her amazing experiences. She said, “I am glad that I attended Rutgers University because it provided me many opportunities, most of which were unique, including being a member of the Mound Patrol.”

Excited to move on to something new and exciting, she knows she will always come back to visit the horses, and the events like Ag Field Day at Rutgers Day.

To learn more about the mounted patrol, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rumounted

A version of this story originally appeared in the Rutgers Equine Science Center quarterly newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter go to https://esc.rutgers.edu/

The Rutgers Equine Science Center annual Summer Showcase is scheduled for July 11.

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