Monday, December 29, 2014

Photo Essay: The Horses of the Rose Parade

I've been fascinated with the Rose Parade for a while now, but unwilling to get up early enough on New Year's Day to make it out to Pasadena in time for it, or, worse yet, camp out for a good spot, as some people do.

But there are other ways to participate in the fun, without having a sober New Year's Eve. Last year I volunteered to help decorate Glendale's float and got to see a lot of the other floats in progress.

This year, three days before the Rose Parade, I spent the day with the horses that will be trotting down Colorado Boulevard while I'm still in bed on January 1.

Equestfest is, quite simply, a gathering of horse people at the LA Equestrian Center. It's a festival and a show, where you get to see the Budweiser Clydesdales in action...



...learn some history...



...root for your favorite opponent in a medieval jousting competition...



...and marvel at rope tricks and choreographed horse dances.



But the real action is outside.



Before, during, and after the show...



...you have many chances of getting up close and personal with the riders...



...and, more importantly, their equine companions.



Whether it's those of the Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team...



...or the New Buffalo Soldiers...



...they all seemed to be calm and relaxed...



...well-treated and even-tempered...



...even with a member of the Prime Time Express dressed as Tina Turner mounted atop.



It's amazing that these horses can perform such tricks and dance moves...



...and receive all this attention...



...letting dozens of children grab at their noses.



Buttercup even showed us her hoof when asked to.



The intimate time with individual horses is special, but during and after the show...



...you get a unique behind-the-scenes look...



...as the equestrian units (like the Long Beach Mounted Police) line up in the staging area to get ready to enter...



...and squeeze in some quick rehearsal time.



It's better than the VIP seats inside the Equidome.



And afterwards, the festival organizers open the barricades by the stables, and allow attendees to come meet the horses...



...who, having worked hard inside, show a bit of sweat coming though their thick winter coats.

Not all Equestfest participants actually appear in the Rose Parade (sorry, Long Beach), and not all Rose Parade participants appear at Equestfest, but it's a great opportunity to really see what these horses can do, and admire the skill and sport (and costumes!) of their riders. And eat a giant bag of Kettlecorn and pet as many noses as you can.

Because there's only so much time left in 2014. And Thursday is a new year.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Rose Parade 2014 Floats, In Progress
Photo Essay: Rose Bowl Stadium, Renovated Again, and Open for Tours!
Photo: Feeding the Wild Horses
Photo Essay: Welcoming 100 Mules to LA After Walking the Aqueduct
Photo Essay: The Gentle Barn, Healing Hearts in A Forever Home