L to R: John E. Franzreb III, Klinger, SFC Christopher Taffoya, Denise Quirk, Katherine Pinkard, Victoria Lowell, Emma Suarez-Murias, SGT Russel Robar, Big D, Officer John Potter and Officer Eric Grove. Photo courtesy of Shawn McMillen Photography.

Baltimore Mounted Police Unit’s Big D and Sergeant Russell Robar Honored as 2018 Klinger Award Recipient

Big D, a 16-year-old palomino draft cross named in honor of fallen officer Forrest Edward "Dino" Taylor, and Sergeant Robar, leader of the Baltimore Police Mounted Unit, received the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Klinger Perpetual Award for Honor & Service sponsored by the EQUUS Foundation and the Stephens Family on Friday, October 26, 2018, in center ring during the annual WIHS Military Night.

The WIHS Klinger Perpetual Award for Honor & Service sponsored by the EQUUS Foundation and the Stephens Family is presented annually to a horse, individual, or organization that best demonstrates the values of honor and service as embodied by Klinger, a special horse who has touched the lives of many in his life of service with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon. The honoree receives a $750 grant from the EQUUS Foundation matched by a $750 donation from The Stephens Family.

“Big D is wonderful example of a horse who found a meaningful second career. Big D pulled farm wagons and plows before joining the urban Baltimore Police Mounted Unit as a peacekeeper. It is an honor to recognize Big D’s big-hearted public service and Sergeant Robar,” said Denise Quirk, Chair of the EQUUS Foundation Horse Welfare Advisory Group, who represented the EQUUS Foundation in the presentation ceremony. 

Big D and Sergeant Robar on duty.

Baltimore’s mounted police unit has helped keep the city’s peace since 1886. As the unit’s leader, Sergeant Robar makes sure the unit continues to serve as a positive and efficient force in Maryland while maintaining its recognition as the oldest continually operated unit in the United States. The pair leads the unit in over 170 community and service events each year. 

Dino and most of the unit’s horses came from Amish farms and were retired after years of pulling plows and farm wagons. They are well suited for the routine patrols of city streets and their crowd control duties. Big D and the seven other equine members of the unit also serve as a model to teach Baltimore youth about the value of public service. “Dino’s our alpha lead horse and a no-nonsense workhorse,” Robar said. “The children on the Amish farms would be climbing all over them. They’re used to people.”

Currently stabled downtown, the unit is scheduled to get a new home. The grant awarded to the Klinger Recipient will be used to help construct an equestrian facility on the property of the B&O Railroad Museum to address the needs of the Baltimore Police Mounted Unit’s human and equine officers as well as to create new and strengthen existing partnerships between the Baltimore City Police and the people of Baltimore. The interactive learning site will provide visitors with an immersive educational experience with planned programs, activities, and demonstrations to build positive interaction between the community and Baltimore City Police officers—both two- and four-legged.