Clicking saddle boots and upbeat country music filled the Pierce College Equestrian Center as over 40 breeds of horses walked, trotted and galloped in front of an audience on Nov. 15.
The fifth annual Pierce College Parade of Breeds included horses brought from all over California. The parade consisted of an introduction to the participating horses, riding competitions, and informational segments about the horses.
The parade is supposed to be a day of fun and education for equine students and the general public, according to Director of Equestrian Sciences Paddy Warner.
Warner said that she started the event as a better way to educate her students on different horse breeds after one student failed to correctly identify a horse during a demonstration ride.
“At that moment, I realized that I can’t have my students looking at breeds from a book, so we started this event,” Warner said.
“I think that most people don’t get to see horses outside of a book. The best thing about the agricultural department here is that it’s hands-on,” Warner said. “When you see them in person, you can’t compare that to book knowledge. Hands-on is the way to go.”
The owners displayed their steeds to the audience during the reining demonstration round of the event. As the horses were shown, Warner’s students from her equine sciences classes were tasked with identifying each horse by its breed and physical traits.
Members of the general public were also invited to test their knowledge, with a prize being awarded to whomever correctly guessed the most breeds.
Warner and Ron Wechsler, the former director of equine sciences, acted as emcees for the parade, telling jokes and giving hints about each horse to the test takers.
“This facility was built here specifically as a learning tool for the community,” Wechsler said. “There’s nothing better than having things take place here that the community can enjoy.”
Chelsea Holzer, the President of the Boots and Saddles Club, said that the parade is a great way of educating the community on horses.
“This event teaches you while you’re having a fun time. I think the parade brings those who aren’t normally horse people to an event that allows them to learn about what we do and what the different types of horses are,” Holzer said.
After the display round, several riders participated in a brief rodeo event that included barrel racing and jumping.
Following the rodeo, the horses were brought back to the display area. At this time, their breeds were revealed along with short lessons about each individual breed, allowing those who took the test to check their answers.
“When you actually see them live, it makes it easier for you to love and appreciate each different horse and all of their different disciplines,” Holzer said.
Warner said that one her favorite aspects of the event is seeing her former students participate in the parade with their own horses.
Eva Loeffler, one of Warner’s past students, brought her Fell pony, Minnie, a native English breed of horses, to the parade.
“I love coming here and seeing the different breeds,” Loeffler said. “Even though I’m into horses, there are some breeds here that I’ve never seen or heard of before.”
She has participated in the parade for the last three years, and she said that she plans to return in the next coming events.
One notable attendee of the Parade of Breeds was Pauline Pierce, the granddaughter of Pierce College founder Clarence Pierce. Pierce traveled from her home in San Diego, bringing her son, Scott Ewing, and 9-year-old grandson Cole Ewing.
She said she wanted to show Cole the college that his great-great grandfather founded.
“My grandfather founded the school in 1947. Nobody had any idea that it would be such a fantastic college, and each time we come to visit we’re more and more impressed with what’s happening here,” Pierce said.
She said that she was excited for the Parade of Breeds, and that she’s happy to see that Pierce is keeping her grandfather’s agricultural vision alive.
“All the students that we talk to are so kind and outgoing, and they have such positive things to say about the school. It’s just a real pleasure to be here and be associated with such a wonderful college and student body,” Pierce said.
The Parade of Breeds is generally scheduled to take place in October or November of every year.