The Oakdale Police Department Equestrian force is growing.
Reserve officer Joe Cruz has done it again, adding another horse to the ranks, this time a big boy named Hoss who will serve as a back-up to Lobo and Moe.
Hoss, a 16-hands tall, 18-year-old horse, was headed for the Turlock horse auction when Cruz decided he couldn’t let that happen.
Abused, neglected and in sad, sorry shape, the future for Hoss seemed bleak when Cruz adopted him.
A lesser person might’ve said Hoss wasn’t worth the trouble.
“I didn’t even know what I was going to do with him,” Cruz admitted. “But I figured if he wasn’t going to work out for duty, I’d just keep him as a pet.”
Hoss suffered from a hoof disease, called navicular horse disease, but the veterinarian determined it was a mild case and could be managed. It would never go away, but it could be managed with special shoes and ongoing treatment.
Cruz found a Ferrier who created the special shoes and for the first time in a long time, Hoss could walk without pain.
“Now he’s running all over the place and he’s loving it,” Cruz said.
Like Lobo, Hoss had also been underweight when Cruz adopted him.
“He was in bad shape,” Cruz said. “His hair was falling off in clumps and he looked terrible.”
You’d never know it to see Hoss now. The feisty boy loves cookies and treats and is running the risk of too much padding around the middle, Cruz joked.
But that’s okay. After the life he’s led, Cruz doesn’t mind spoiling him just a little.
Hoss’ first official duty will be to carry newly appointed interim police chief Lester Jenkins in the rodeo parade in April. Jenkins and Hoss have already spent some quality time getting to know one another.
“A quick half hour ride turned into a two-hour ride,” Cruz said. “They get along real well.”
For Cruz, seeing the rescued horses make a complete turn around, makes everything worth it.
“Seeing the horses go from being sick to giving them purpose and being healthy again, that’s what I love,” Cruz said.
But Cruz admitted, he’s at his limit now. Between Lobo and Hoss, a full time job in the Bay Area and his reserve duties, he has his hands full.
“I want to save them all,” Cruz said. “But there’s only so much you can do. For now, I’m happy to focus on the ones we have.”
Cruz and Lobo as well as Moe and John Deming and now, Hoss too, are out there proving that Oakdale is more than a one-horse town and it’ll stay that way for as long as there are people like Cruz and Deming who are willing to go the extra mile to provide equestrian police units for the community.