Riding in a parade is an exhibition of the relationship between horse and rider. It's a true honour to take a horse to the centre of town and have them trust you enough to be calm in what is to them, chaos. Horse and man, in our case woman, have been partners for centuries and it is easy to take for granted the relationship, level of training and dedication it takes to ride in a parade.
Having said that, speaking from experience, there is never a prouder moment then being in the parade, the crowd cheering as you and your partner go by. In that moment we are no longer just women dressed up, we have become the woman that we chose to represent and although facing a different horizon, it gives a glimpse into the mindset of these incredible icons of our past.
Horse prep is something that we take very seriously. For the safety of the crowds, walkers and riders we gather to expose horses to stimulus that may not be encountered in their everyday life but will be at a parade.
We are teaming up with Matthew Doyle, a young local trainer who has worked with the group in recent years to prepare the horses for what comes with parades and crowd eventing. Having coached several of the horses in the group Matthew takes great pride in getting the horses parade ready. In a mock parade trial, we practice with gates, noise makers, balloons, umbrellas, loud music and crowd cheering. This gives the rider time to engage with her horse before being in her first parade.
By having a mandatory 2 parades under your belt, we give the horse the chance to experience smaller crowds before we go into the Stampede Parade. All horses and riders MUST attend 2 parades before riding in the Stampede Parade.
The Wildies will be offering cowboy challenge experiences for riders new and old, free of charge at Matthew's home ranch, Discovering the Horse. The trials are mandatory and all horses must be passed by Matthew and group leaders before heading out on the parade route.