In 1974 Christine Windover learned the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were accepting applications from women for the first time. She applied and was accepted in only the second troop of women cadets. An accomplished equestrian, Christine applied to be a member on the Musical Ride but was denied because of gender.
“The Ride” showcases the equestrian skills of 32 cavalry members of the RCMP. Riders are dressed in their official red surge uniform and brown Stetsons. The horses themselves are black, Thoroughbreds and/or Hanoverians. The intricate maneuvers are derived from century’s old cavalry drills.
Breaking a second gender bias within the RCMP, Christine and Joan Merk, became the first two women accepted into the equestrian program in 1980.
Christine said, “Breaking into the boys’ club wasn’t easy. There was so much pressure for us it was unbelievable. We were watched constantly for any signs of weakness and everyone expected we would fail.”
Christine’s riding skills and personal nature eventually won over her male team mates. She went on to become an instructor on the Ride and was the first woman in the Force promoted to Corporal. After a 30-year career with the RCMP she retired to co-own an equestrian center in Ontario.
“Training horses was easy, but training people not so easy. I hope I paved the way a little.”
Christine Windover did pave the way for women in the RCMP. Today half of the Musical Ride’s performers are women.