I was searching online for a file, and came across these photos:
They are from the 1999 Cherry Blossom Parade in DC. That is me on my TWH Shadow, and one of my riding students on her mother, Neysa. Both of us in 1840's riding habits. The lavender one my student is wearing is the first one I had made, but authentic means 22 tiny buttons up the front. Yeah, I decided to try again. The green one I am wearing has a hidden zipper. Not so authentic, but easier to get on and off.
The full skirt made riding much easier, and I actually had people who believed we were riding side saddle. Nope, not me. My horses were great, and had done many parades, but experience has shown me other people do not know how horses react, so just not taking the chance of kissing pavement. This was with the Chesapeake Plantation Walking Horse Club, who did the parade for several years.
It's funny, our horses always did very well in all that chaos. We held parade practices, passed around tapes of bands, etc to get the horses used to the noise, and did a lot of bomb-proofing clinics. Except for one year when parade planning fell apart and the horses got cornered against a band who deliberately tried to spook them, everything always went well. Our horses were well trained and trusting.
One year we were waiting in the line up, behind a wonderful group all decked out as cowboys, with a mule drawn chuckwagon. They were seasoned parade riders, having done these parades for years. A band marched by, and I noticed their horses never even looked up. I commented on how calm the horses were, and the rider said "You would be calm too with two tubes of Quietex in you."
I was flabberghasted, it never even occured to us to give our horses Quietex, or something like it. (honestly, most of us had never heard of it) I have to admit, they didn't have the same dancing and snorting we had. Even the calmest and best trained horse is still going to look and snort when I giant balloon goes over head, or a band booms it's drums right in your ear. Plus the crawl and stop, crawl and stop movement of a parade is especially trying on TWH since they really love to move out.
But after hearing this, I was even more proud of our horses, and our club. For novice parade riders, we did well and never had an incident. We eventually did parades ranging from St' Patricks Day in Alexandria, to Fourth of July parades all over Md, to the Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia.
Parades are a lot of work, but it's worth it all for the kids. They love seeing the horses, and I remember being just such a kid, whose only contact with a horse was watching them dance by in a parade. It was the biggest thrill of the day.
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