Examples of 35-plus equine breeds are expected in this year's Oct. 12 Parade of Breeds staged by the Pierce College Equestrian Center. "It's doubled and tripled every year we've done it and it's a totally fun day," reports Pierce instructor and director of equine sciences Paddy Warner.
Most people can only expect to see a Przewalski horse in a zoo, but Southern Californians are likely to see a representative of this endangered wild horse species at Pierce's parade. That's in addition to the likely appearance of a zebra, a Fell Pony that's flying in to take part and a Chincoteague pony that "actually did the swim" across the Assoteague Channel in Virginia.
The Parade of Breeds began modestly four years ago. While teaching horse husbandry and horse production classes, Paddy invited students to watch a reining demonstration and later asked them what breed the horse was. "They mostly all guessed the wrong breed and my heart just sank!" she recounts. "I realized there is a lot you can't tell by looking at a picture in a book." And thus began the Parade. The free presentation started out as a weekday evening event designed for students. It's now held on a Saturday, starting at 1 pm, to accommodate phenomenal interest from students and the public.
Round-one features breed representatives brought before the crowd, usually in-hand, and sometimes under saddle if their gait is critical to identifying their breed. Students, and the public, are quizzed on the each horse's breed. In round-two, the horses return and their breeds are revealed, along with a discussion of identifying characteristics, while attendees self-grade their tests.
Questions are welcome. "If somebody doesn't quite recognize the difference between a Morgan and an Arab, for example, we'll bring both horses back into the ring and talk about it," Paddy explains.
She emcees the parade along with much-revered Ron Weschler, who has headed up Pierce College's equine program for many years. "We have some fun with it," Paddy continues. "Like, we'll bring in a Clydesdale and a Miniature just in case someone can't make that distinction. It's really a great day!" More often, it's subtle distinctions, like those between a Peruvian Paso and a Paso Fino that horse people find most fascinating.
The Parade of Breeds starts at 1 p.m. at the Pierce Equestrian Center in Los Angeles County's Woodland Hills. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Boots And Saddles Club on Facebook for updates.