by Adam Ghassemi
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – It doesn't take a genius to realize a financial institution would want police officers around as much as possible, but one mid-state credit union is making sure some officers can easily stay close.
Officer Jeff Duren goes through the routine nearly every day to get his partner "Sunny," a 13-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse, ready for mounted patrols.
The pair has become a common sight at Hendersonville's Streets of Indian Lake.
"Hey, buddy, how are you doing?” Duren asked one child mesmerized by Sunny Wednesday.
Sunny usually turns heads, and leaves parents explaining why they too can't get a pony.
They are a fully functioning team that between the 911 calls and meet-and-greets, sometimes has to take a break.
"It would be nice to have a place where I could tie him and know that he's not going to get away. Right now, I use whatever is available a tree or a bench or whatever is there,” Duren said.
Ron Smith noticed Sunny tied to a tree one day outside the Electric Service Credit Union branch. Smith just happens to be President and CEO, and a horse person.
"I asked him would a hitching post be better than a tree?” Smith said.
He decided to do something about it. A contractor ended up donating material and installing a hitching post on the credit union's lawn. Now Duren, or anyone on horseback on a nearby greenway, is welcome to use it.
"Giving back takes many shapes and forms and this is just one of them that helps out in giving to the community with helping Sunny and Jeff,” Smith said.
Seeing a horse tied to a hitching post outside a credit union in the middle of a shopping area does get some strange looks, but Smith hopes ESCU is the first of many businesses in the area to install one. That could give the Mounted Patrol even more places to stop between emergency calls and the ever important encounters with people amazed just to get so close to a horse.
"Everybody wants to pet Sunny. Nobody ever wants to pet a bicycle or patrol car,” Duren joked.
The Hendersonville Police Mounted Patrol only has two horses right now housed in a temporary location. Tuesday, June 10, they are holding a charity concert called "Raise the Barn" to build a permanent facility on city-owned land.