Are you looking to take your horse to a parade, then you need to follow these four simple S’s: Safety, Saddle, Style, and Smile.
Safety: Riding in parades can be very fun, but you do need to be prepared. There are many safety factors that go into riding in a parade. First and foremost, safety first: wear a helmet! Anytime you ride a helmet can be a lifesaver, however when in parade it is that much more important. Remember that you will likely be traveling on a road; a fall would not be very fun without a helmet. Secondly, prepare your horse as well as possible to the environment of a parade. Make sure they can deal with things such as loud noises, cheering, sirens, balloons, streamers, flags, the slow pace, close proximity to people and other horses, costumes, bikes, cars, and the many other things that may pop up during a parade. You can help your horse deal with these situations through desensitization training. Finally, do a safety check of your equipment, such as saddle, costume, and stirrups. Now that you have taken the steps to be safe for both horse, rider, and spectator; enjoy the ride. (Note if you are driving in the parade instead of walking the same safety measures should be taken.)
Saddle: The parade saddle was most popular during the fifties and sixties. They were very large and heavy saddles adorned with loads of decoration. These “over the top” saddles have mainly now become the choice of saddle collectors. The modern day parade saddle is still heavily decorated, but not quite to the extent as is was. These western saddles usually contain silver trim, conchos, and silver studs. The skirt of a parade saddle is large, so to maximize the space for additional decoration. They tend to be heavy in weight due to the added decoration. Typically, the parade saddle stirrups will contain tapaderos. While these saddles are designed for the parade use, a parade rider can choose to ride in any saddle.
Style: Parade style can vary depending on the occasion. Commonly, riders are adorned in costumes appropriate to the occasion or holiday. This can range from brightly dressed costumes, to heavily decorated western wear, to war reenactment uniforms, to flowers, bows, and sequins. Choose your style and have fun with it!
Smile: Remember the whole point of a parade is to have FUN! Do not forget to smile and wave!