In June of 2017, I ended up in a parade. I wasn’t supposed to ride in the parade, but if you’re offered a horse in the middle of the road, how can you say no?
Every (normal) June, the Harrisburg American Legion has a parade. I think it’s judged. It occurs in Harrisburg near the capital. During the parade weekend, the nearby barn I rode at and their family has a huge cowboy hoedown on the property. The peak of the weekend is the parade. The large pasture near the road opens up so the out-of-town guests have a place to park their trucks, trailers, and RVs. Guests start arriving that Thursday.
On the morning of the 2017 parade, I showed up around 7 am to help start getting the horses ready. There was a small chance that there would be an extra horse that I could catch ride. I didn’t have to get up too early since I live 5 minutes away. We washed and brushed the horses until the bell rung that breakfast was ready.
After breakfast came tacking up. I’d ridden Lady during the year, but the barn owner’s granddaughter came and wanted to ride her. The last time she’d ridden had been the previous parade, so I ended up tacking up Lady for her.
The majority of the riders decided to ride the horses to the parade. Or drive them, if they had carriages. The riders that didn’t want to participate in the wild adventure trailered their horses to the meeting point. Everyone else followed behind in trucks to make sure they were safe. There weren’t extra horses, so I ended up in the bed of a truck with a group of nice women.
We followed the riders as they maneuvered down the roads. Even though the horses were road safe, we still took back roads as much as possible.
About a quarter of the way there, the end of the line started falling behind. It continued for a bit and the distance grew and grew. The leader rode back and started conversing with the riders. When their conversation ended, he urged his horse into a lope and rode back to the trucks. He called for someone who can ride because the rider wasn’t able to handle it.
The women in the truck all looked at me and the next thing I knew I was leaping out of the truck and mounting Lady in the middle of the road. I felt bad for the girl about not being able to control Lady on this adventure but was excited about being able to ride.
I don’t have any good photos of me riding that day. Luckily, other participants and onlookers took photos along the way. I did find a photo of myself on Lady. In some ways, it’s good because I was a mess from helping get horses ready and didn’t change when I realized there weren’t extra horses. Plus, I had a hot pink cowgirl hat on because I’d forgotten my real one. It was not my best fashion moment.
By the time we got to the meeting spot, we found out the parade had started. We wove through the city streets and entered the parade at the halfway point. It’d been quite a journey.
We finished the parade and rested under a tree. I was invited to ride back to the farm, but I opted out. My mom’s voice, the voice of reason, filled my head. “Do not get yourself killed doing something dumb with horses while I am away,” she’d told me before going away for the week. So I rode back in a truck instead. A horse’s less exciting cousin. I drove home and took a nap before returning for dinner. It’d been quite a day.
A good thing about me is that I’ll ride whatever is available. A bad thing about me is that I’ll ride whatever is available. I’m more discerning now than I have been in the past. I had a reality check two years ago when I fell and hurt my hip bad enough that I had trouble walking for a few weeks. Reality hit me in full force that I am capable of getting hurt and that I needed to think for a millisecond before leaping.
Would I do a catch ride again in the middle of a road?