Parade Protocol Recommendations for Horses

Special considerations should be made before taking a horse to a parade.

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Parades are exciting. Children are delighted at all the sights, sounds, and the opportunity to do something different. Parents are lulled into peaceful reverie by the distraction the winding procession creates for their offspring. Organizers are frazzled by last-minute changes, conflicts, and inevitable problems. Participants, both human and animal, are energized and sometimes agitated by the crowd, noises, and unexpected events.

The Horse Factor

It is important to realize that parades can be very confusing for horses. The sights, sounds, and obstacles on a parade route are often unfamiliar to our equines and, to further complicate matters, we have to navigate directly in the public eye, usually on pavement, in a narrow area. Take time well in advance of participating in a parade to desensitize your horse to traffic, clapping, noises, changes in footing, balloons, flags, horns honking, loud music, and other sights and sounds associated with parades.

One of the biggest challenges for horses at some parades has been crosswalks made of bricks embedded in the pavement. People recognize that the height of the road remains unchanged even though the appearance is quite altered. Our four-footed friends, however, cannot reason in the same manner. Thus, the brick walk could appear to be a gaping crevasse into which they might fall or it could seem to rise above the normal surface of the road, both of which can be scary for a horse.

Also, remember if you are driving your horse in a parade that crossing cobblestones, bricks, gravel, and railroad tracks isn’t just about getting your horse to the other side; your vehicle has to also cross the obstacle. The resulting noise or strange vibrations of the carriage going over rough ground might cause your horse concern

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