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Ride Your Horse in a Parade

Updated on March 30, 2014
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

Celebrate 4th of July or Christmas, Ride in a Parade


Everyone loves the horses in the parade, and it can be fun to ride in one, too. If you are going to parade around on your horse you should show pride in your horse and respect for the parade and its spectators. Do this by putting forth the effort to look like a million dollars even if your horse is a family companion rather than a show horse. You and your horse should be clean, well groomed and dressed for the part. I have a few hints for putting some pizzazz in your turnout.

Jingle Bells!

1. Bathe your horse. If you have a gray, pinto or any light colored horse you should be sure to get all the stains cleaned off. Use a special shampoo like Quic Silverä for brightening the white and removing the yellow. Add ¼ cup of bleach to a five-gallon bucket of water to rinse the tail. Wait ten minutes and then rinse with clear water to make a yellowed tail white again.

If you are riding in a Christmas Parade it might be to cold for a wet bath. There are some "waterless shampoos" on the market that help get out stains like Vetrolin Green Spot Out, Absorbine's Miracle Groom, and Quic Groom. Miracle Groom also makes pre-moistened towels for those spots you missed or your horse got in the tralier on the way top the parade site.

2. Clip the bridle path, long hairs under the jaw, whiskers from the muzzle, long hair from the ears, and long hairs from the fetlocks and around the coronet band. If you have not clipped your horse before learn from an experienced horse friend before the event and practice.

3. Brush the tangles from the mane and tail. Give the horse a good currying and brush away dust and loose hair.

Flowers Adorn these Parade Horses

4. Now comes the fun part. Decide on a theme for your horse's tack and your attire. For Independence Day red, white, and blue are the usual colors to work with, and fortunately these colors are easy to find at the tackshops. Saddle pads, polo wraps, bell boots, brow bands, and even bridles are available. Jeffer's All American Saddle Pad has red and white stripes with a blue stripe with white stars across the back where it will show up. Matching synthetic bridles and breast collars come in a wide array of colors, some decorated with conchos, tassels, and rhinestones. Polo wraps with flag print are a nice touch. You can even make your own buying fleece at a fabric store where you can find many colors and patterns.

For Christmas you can find all the trappings you'll want in red and green for the traditional holiday colors. No matter the occasion the is no shortage these days on colorful equine clothes. Reindeer antlers that attach to the halter are available in many tack shops or online catalogs. They are not hard to make. Cut the shapes from cardboard and tape them to the halter with duct tape! Glue on some glitter to add some bling. Glitter on the hooves, in the mane and tail and on the browband also add to the festive spirit. You can even add cordless Christmas lights woven in your horse's mane or on yourself. Be creative!


For your own attire western clothes in the patriotic colors are also easy to find. Shirts with glitter, fringe, or conchos add some sparkle to catch the attention of the crowd.


English riders can dress it up too with colorful pads, polo wraps, and a navy blue jacket. Add a little flag pin on the lapel. Stars and stripes, and well as solid colored helmet covers are also available. I strongly suggest a safety helmet for western riders as well as English, especially for children. There are western styled safety helmets.


Another way to dress it up for a parade ride is to go in colonial period costume. Men go in a militia costume complete with a tri-corner hat. Ladies ride sidesaddle and wear a colonial style gown. Buckskins and a coonskin hat would be another good representation of colonial dress of the woodsman.


5. Accessories for the horse include braiding ribbons or pom poms into the manes and tail. Polish the hooves and color with hoof polish. Add glitter for more eye appeal. Another fun product on the market is glitter gel that can be applied to the mane and tail. TwinkleÒ makes both the gel and Twinkle Toes Hoof Polish and Twinkle White Chrome to enhance white markings with a shimmering effect on the face and legs.

Reindeer antlers that fasten to the crownpiece of the bridle can transform your horse into one of Santa's sleigh pulling deer.

6. Words of caution - be sure the horse you ride will tolerate the sights and sounds of the parade. Nothing will take the fun out of things like a horse running away or spooking and especially dumping its rider. Also be sure nothing in the costume or turnout will irritate or injure the horse. Oh, and be sure you have a friend with a camera to take pictures of you as you ride by.

Glitter on their hooves will be eye-catching!


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    • myawn profile image

      myawn 6 years ago from Florida

      I love the parade horses they are so beauitful decorated I don't have a horse but their fun to watch

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Zena, thanks! Everyone, here is the link

      Awesome and Fun!

    • profile image

      Zena 7 years ago

      Here's some great stuff for Parades or just for fun!!

      Hoof Bling! Check it out!!

    • profile image

      JoanneWilson 7 years ago

      Does anyone know how to make the parade flags carried by horse riders? I've searched and searched the internet and cannot find anyone and can't find any plans or descriptions.

      Thank you!

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Sally, I think most of the time its the horse team's job. It can be a fun part of the parade experience - with the pick up crew wearing costumes and decorating the wheel barrows. Ideal way for youngsters in a 4-H or pony club who are "horseless" to participate.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I wonder about managing the apple clean-up? Several years ago my daughter coordinated her school's horses and riders in a small-town parade. There were nearly as many apple-scoopers carrying shovels and pushing wheelbarrows as there were riders. Is it expected that the horse team provides its own clean-up in such a public event? Or is that something that gets negotiated with parade organizers?

    • Anne Coyle profile image

      Anne Coyle 8 years ago from Bronxville, NY

      This was a fun article to read with its tips on putting “pizzazz” into riding a horse in a parade. You provide wonderful ideas about how to dress and the trappings for different kinds of parades in which one might participate with a horse (especially for Independence Day and Christmas parades). I also appreciate that you emphasize that the horse has to be comfortable in this public venue and with any accessories that you put on him or her. It is such a pleasure to see a horse in a parade, but if it is skittish or spooked, then the onlookers are only concerned about its well-being. You have me looking forward to the next parade!