Hearts beat for hoofbeats

More than 35 horse breeds stomped their hooves, strutted their stuff and trotted before a crowd to showcase their characteristics.

Their long manes, diverse coloring, spots and even stripes, were on full display as spectators clapped and cheered for the exchange of horses in the arena on Saturday, Nov. 11. at the Pierce College Equestrian Center.

Gypsies, Mustangs, Appaloosas and Miniatures, just to name a few breeds, put on a spectacle for those attending the show by traipsing, turning, and even rolling over in the arena alongside their owners.

The eighth annual Parade of Breeds was organized by students in the Horse Show Organization and Management Class. They prepared for 11 weeks since the start of the fall semester. This included: coordinating the parade, barrel racing, trick roping and a drill team performance. The Boots and Saddle Club and Pre-Vet Club partnered to help facilitate the petting zoo and face painting booth.

Adjunct instructor of horseback riding Katrina Britner said the Parade of Breeds is memorable for many people, including prospective students.

“You would be surprised how many students come here at 18 or 19 years old, and they remember going to the Parade of Breeds when they were a kid,” Britner said. “They were looking forward to coming here because they remembered this experience.”

Chair of the Equine Department Patricia Warner said she thinks exposing her students to this first-hand experience is beneficial.

“This event was basically a gift to my students,” Warner said. “I started this event about eight years ago, because the students said they couldn’t tell what specific breeds of horses looked like without actually seeing them.”

Equine Student Rachel Koch said she enjoys observing the horses in the parade.

“Seeing the horses here, I am able to put the breed to the horse better,” Koch said. “You can put a Mini next to a Clydesdale, and even though that’s a drastic difference, you get to see it instead of looking at it on paper.”

Equine Student and Show Manager Jeanette Smith said she hopes people leave the event more informed about the various breeds.

“It lets people see there isn’t just Quarter horses or Arabians or the one or two horses that you see on TV,” Smith said. “There’s a huge amount of different variety of horses and equines in general that people don’t get to see.”

Warner said she appreciated the horse owners that came out to share their animals.

“I’m blessed with the most amazing students and horse community,” Warner said. “A lot of these people have come from three-plus hours away. Not only did they have to get their horse ready, but they donated their time and brought their beautiful animals to this place.”

Britner said the diversity of breeds makes the event.

“We had a huge selection today,” Britner said. “You can look around and see every different color and every different breed there practically is.”

Horse owner Nancy Nunke brought four unique animals to the event.

“We brought the Zorse (zebra horse), Zonkey (zebra donkey), Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra and a Wild Przewalski horse,” Nunke said. “It was great to have them in the ring and to be able to share them with people, especially the Przewalski horse and the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra because they are both endangered.”

Warner said she is proud of her student’s hard work.

“This is the first year that I’ve done the least amount, meaning the students have really done everything, including singing the national anthem and announcing,” Warner said.

Koch said she is fortunate to be a part of the Equine Program at Pierce College, because it’s unlike any other program in the San Fernando Valley.

“We actually get to sit here with the horses and learn how to saddle them, learn how to feed them and learn how to drive a tractor,” Koch said. “I don’t think there’s anywhere else we can do that.”