While the actual concept of celebratory parades involving
horses and carried out to acknowledge battle victories
is centuries old, the first purely ceremonial and regularly
scheduled parade can be traced back to 1745 with the
beginning of the British Monarchy’s Horse Guard Parade,
performed daily by the Palace Guard. This well-known
ceremony has prevailed and remains extremely popular to
this day. The modern show ring parade horse’s roots, however,
take on a Western theme and can be traced back to the mid-1800s
when wealthy landowners in the Southwest region
of the United States particularly near the Mexican border
spared no luxury with their saddle horse transportation.
These proud ranch and hacienda owners saddled their superbly trained
and stylish mounts with beautifully hand-crafted saddles and bridles
trimmed in the finest silver, and traveled to town in high-stepping
style. It is no surprise that horse show enthusiasts wanted
to celebrate this colorful and rich history by
developing a discipline dedicated to the unique heritage of
these special horses.
The modern show ring parade horse
can be of any breed, although the refined, animated carriage
associated with Saddlebreds, Morgans, and Hackneys make
them favorite choices. A typical turn-out for a parade horse
includes elaborate forms of Western tack including a bridle,
breast-collar, and stock saddle adorned heavily with silver.
The rider is most commonly attired in brightly-colored,
elaborately decorated Western wear typical of the Old West
which can be American, Mexican or Spanish in origin. A
winning parade horse must have impeccable manners, and
since beauty is important, blemishes are also considered.
The parade mount is shown at two gaits: the animated walk
and the “parade gait,” a true, straight, square,
high-prancing, balanced, and collected trot, the maximum
speed of which should not exceed five miles-per-hour. To
learn more about the dynamic, exciting discipline of parade,
visit the United States Equestrian Federation at usef.org.