Tag Archives: Parade Horses

On this 4th of July, Let’s discuss Parade Horses! Yippee!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 4, 2010.  Please send me pics of YOUR parade horse!

Do we take Parade Horses for granted?  How about all that jazz and finery they lug around… not to mention the silver laden rider?!

Silly me.  Growing up in California, I thought every horse was a parade horse… I’d see the Rose Bowl Parade every year and think that is just what horses did….  Ha!  I sure had NO IDEA how special of an individual a horse would have to be to deal with all the craziness of a Parade!!  OMG! 

When I think about putting any of my horses in a parade right now, I may as well be contemplating my own demise.  Forgeddaboudit!  One horn blast or spinny, shiny thing and I’d be on the ground so fast, I’d hardly have time to see his hiney galloping off through a department store window.

(Bowing to the Parade Horse God…)

I would so love to meet a true parade quality horse face to face.  I bet his fuzzy mug could tell me stories beyond my wildest nightmares.  And, I would love the privilege to ride him.  I think that ride would be the most solid and animated ride ever!  I’d wear a headdress.  A big ol’ Chief of all the Indians 5′ tall headdress to defy Ru Paul.  Yup, I’d be so darn thrilled to be on a true, bomb-proof horse that I’d go ALL OUT for the first and probably only time.  Because, we all know that no horse, not even a parade horse, is bomb-proof.  But, the fantasy is really fun!


Wow.  I don’t have enough to say to cover all the faboo photos I’ve garnered in the few hours I’ve been researching this topic!

But, you know what is sad?   There are no parade HORSES who are written about other than Trigger.  I really wanted to tell you about some specific, famous parade horse, but I found no stories.  I even emailed the person in charge of Parade Rules from USEF and asked about any specific Parade Horses that came to mind, but I didn’t hear back.  Boo Hoo!

So, I’ll just chatter about what I’m thinking on the subject of Parade Horses and hope that I can go on long enough to make room for all of the photos I wanted to post.


There are two groups of Parade Horses — Parade Horses that show in Parade Classes at horse shows and the Parade Horse who actually walks in parades.  This can be a big distinction.


So, there is a class in some breed shows called the Parade Class.  I have actually witnessed a Parade Class because I have Morgans and they do this — well, some of them do this.  Umm, well, actually, there were only 2 in the class.  But, those two individuals were MAGNIFICENT.  OMG.  I almost cried they were so paradey. They strutted their silvery stuff like nobody’s business!  It was if these horses knew that they were carrying around the national debt on their backs.  Oy!  I couldn’t imagine having to heft those saddles over a log let alone a 15’3 horse!  Holy Cannoli!  And the bridles… Wow.  All I can say is it would take a lot of patience, training and elbow grease to get these guys into the ring.  And, be sure to wear your sunglasses while watching or else the glints from the sun/lights could blind you!

I wanted to run up to those Morgan Parade Class horses and beg them to tell me how regal it felt in that moment.  I wanted to call Breyer and demand a new figure be created in this honor.  I was very, very dazzled by these parade horses.  Or maybe it was the finery, or maybe it was the at-ti-tude of the horse… whatever it was, the combination was electric.


These classes have rules just like any other class.  In fact, I’ll just print them here so you can see:

The Parade Horse must be a beautiful, stylish animal, displaying refinement and personality and present eye-appeal of horse and rider. The show parade horse may be of any color or combination of colors, of any breed or combination of breeds, stallions, mares or geldings. Good manners are essential, both in executing gaits and while lined up in the ring. Horses must be serviceably sound and in good condition. Since beauty is important, blemishes will be considered. Parade Horses must be shown with a full mane, braided if desired, and a tail that may be set prior to showing. An inconspicuously applied tail switch or top is permitted and a brace may be used. Entries must be over 14.2 hands. Ponies are not eligible for Parade Horse classes, however separate classes for ponies 14.2 hands and under may be offered for junior exhibitors and judged under the same rules.

The Parade Horse is shown at an animated walk and at a parade gait. The animated walk should be a graceful, four-beat, straight, brisk movement, but not a jog-trot. It should be slow enough to differentiate between the animated walk and the parade gait. The parade gait shall be a true, straight, high-prancing movement, square, collected and balanced with hocks well under. The maximum speed should be 5 MPH.
Parade Horses are shown under stock saddles with silver, Mexican or other appropriate equipment. The rider should wear attire that is both colorful and typical of the Old West, of American, Mexican, or Spanish origin, consisting of fancy cowboy suit, hat and boots. Spurs, guns, serapes, etc, are optional.
For specific information regarding Parade Horse or Pony classes, please visit the USEF Rule Book link above. Should you have any questions, please contact the USEF Breeds and Western Disciplines Department at (859) 258-2472.

Cool, eh?


I know that my trainer looked for years for a Parade Horse for one of his clients.  The horse had to be big enough to carry a heavy silver saddle and heavily bedazzled rider.  The horse had to be calm enough to remember his job in the ring and had to be talented and beautiful.  Tough job.

But, this horse also had to do the Rose Parade…

So, my trainer went to work training this massive, black gelding.  He would put the horse in the ring and try to think of every single disruptive event that could happen at a parade.  Then, he would go about desensitizing the horse to this stuff.  Rattles, buggies, baby carriages, umbrellas, flags, horns, popcorn machines, engines, calliopes, ticker tape, bags, balloons, noisy kids, jets engines (well, not really jet engines but the noise), garbage cans rolling, papers flying, kids running underneath… You name it, he did it.

My trainer was determined that NOTHING would go wrong.  I know, I used to watch in admiration.  He went to every parade he could find in Southern CA. And, very cleverly, he reenacted just about all the hazards available.  On top of that, the horse was trained inside the trailer.  He knew all the noises from inside his aluminum box stall.  Then there was the task of cleaning the tack.  Oy.  That took a week alone!

And, you know what?   That horse was prepared. That horse was incredible.  His owner was delighted.  And, much to my trainer’s chagrin, he was now going to have to do this every single year until death do us part…


I have learned that silver saddles and parade get-ups were started in the 30s and 40s.  But, it was the Hollywood Cowboy that brought this era to light during the 50s and 60s.  In fact, this genre spawned a new industry in silver saddles and fantastical Western wear.

There was an article I read about the saddle makers of that era.  Here are some of the names:   Edward Bohlin, Frank Coenan, Keyston Brothers, Ted Flowers, Bruce Lovins, L. V. Frazer

I looked some of them up and then found a saddle collector.  His website was very interesting and informative.  He has a museum… cool.

I also poked around Ebay and did see a few for sale.  Here is a link to a private Parade saddle for sale.

I also wondered about the clothes but then decided that was for another post…


I found a zillion photos.  I loved so many of them…  I found jousting parades and breed parades and military parades… Wow! I even found several home town parades… loved those.  So, here are several photos and I’ve left out even more.  I wish I could post them all.


UPDATE:  How could I have forgotten about:

Michele MacFarlane and the ScrippsMiramar Saddlebreds?!  They do an incredible show every single Rose Parade… Here are a few…  And, here is their FB page so you can see all the incredible pics!


This was several years ago… and they’ve ramped it up since!


Such a pretty picture!


Even in the rain…


Every horse, different…


Michele creates these elaborate parade themes every year!


1962. That little girl is Michele!


A reader sent in these photos of her Morgan mare, Mischievous Enchantment!

Mischievous Enchantment Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 8.44.06 AMHAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!!!!!!


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!