Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The RCMP — colloquially called the "Mounties" or "the Horsemen" and referred to by members as just "the Force" — are Canada's federal police organisation. They are known for wearing a uniform consisting of a red serge tunic, blue riding pants with a yellow stripe down the seam, knee length riding boots, and large stetson sized felt hat, with a flat brim. However this uniform is only worn on ceremonial occasions.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is Canada's Federal Police service. It is a force with paramilitary roots; originally it was to be named the "Northwest Mounted Rifles", and patterned after regiments in India's Northwest Frontier. Even before they went into service, however, the name became "Northwest Mounted Police", probably to avoid offending US sensibilities by placing an obviously military group in a then-disputed region. They soon played a major role in countering the Northwest Rebellion.
In 1904, Edward Vii made them the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and in 1920, they were merged with the Dominion Police to create the RCMP.
Most of Canada's Provinces contract the RCMP to serve as their Provincial Police Force, and many municipalities use them as their local police as well.
Establishment of the NWMP force
The parliament of Canada created a central police force in May 1873 and 150 recruits were sent to Manitoba. This force later became known as the Northwest Mounted Police.
In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force. One hundred and fifty recruits were sent west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name North-West Mounted Police (NWMP). By 1874, 275 mounted police officers headed to southern Alberta to help manage the whiskey trade among the Aboriginal people. During this move west, Fort Macleod, Alberta where half of the officers established an outpost. Half of the remaining officers were sent to Fort Edmonton while the remaining officers were sent to Fort Pelly, Saskatchewan. Later Fort Calgary and Fort Walsh were established.
In 1885 the force had grown to 1,000 men who helped maintain Canada's security. The NWMP almost ended in 1896, when Canada's newly elected Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier attempted to disband the organization. Thanks to support from residents living in western Canada the NWMP persevered and remained to help police the Klondike Gold Rush.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Parliament voted to merge the NWMP with the Dominion Police and the organization was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The headquarters for the RCMP was moved from Ottawa to Regina at this time. Between 1932 and 1938 the force increased to 2,350 after undertaking provincial policing in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. By 1950 the RCMP had undertaken provincial policing Newfoundland and British Columbia.
The RCMP has a long history of serving during wartime. In 1885 as the NWMP, members of the force put down the Northwest Rebellion in 1885;' offered troops to fight in the South African War during 1899 to 1902; sent troops to serve during both World War I and World War II. The Canadian Provost Corps in World War Two was initially created from Mountie volunteers; the First Provost Company was entirely Mounties.
The RCMP today
The RCMP continues combat crime throughout the provinces while protecting Canada's borders. In addition to its national role, the RCMP has jurisdiction as a provincial or territorial police force in eight of the ten provinces (only Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police) and all three territories. 
In French, the Mounties are la Gendarmerie Royale du Canada, abbreviated GRC. In Western Canada, where not much French is spoken and the Mounties act as provincial and often local police, the initials are sometimes in interpreted as Gravel Road Cowboys.
The RCMP is headed by a commissioner who serves under the direction of the Minister of Public Safety Canada. The RCMP enforces laws approved by the Canadian parliament. The RCMP uses a regional management system and has four regions administered by deputy commissioners. The regions are: Pacific, Northwestern, Central and Atlantic. Within each region a division is established and most use a letter from the alphabet to designate who they are. For example the A Division is part of the National Capital Region while the K Division is based out of Alberta. As of September 2010 there was 1 commissioner, 7 deputy commissioners, 26 assistant commissioners, 60 chief superintendents, 185 superintendents, 446 inspectors, 1 corps sergeant major, 7 sergeants major, 17 staff sergeants major, 950 staff sergeants, 2,153 sergeants, 3,653 corporals, 11,834 constables, 74 special constables, 3,733 civilian members, 6,145 public servants for a total of 29, 202 employees of the RCMP. 
The Musical Ride
The RCMP Musical Ride was started by the NWMP in 1874 using drill movements accompanied by music to help entertain the troops while off-duty. The first recorded musical ride was conducted at Fort Macleod, Alberta in 1876 although the official name: Musical Ride was assigned in 1877 in the Regina RCMP barracks. The 1874 performance was not attended by the public. By 1961 the Musical Ride was permanently established and has offered performances throughout the world. Today all black horses, specially bred by the RCMP, are used during the Musical Ride performances. Of note: The RCMP quit using horses to patrol in the late 1930s. 
Watching a rehearsal for the Ride can be quite amusing. Some of the riders are new recruits and not yet skilled horsemen, and occasionally, one falls off. Generally, the horse continues just fine without him, remaining in formation and performing the movements unguided.