On January 20th, the new President of the United States will take office. The transfer of power takes place in Washington, DC where the President is sworn into office on the steps of the Capital Building. There are many celebrations during the day including the traditional Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Over 3,000 organizations applied to march in this year’s parade, with only 40 being selected. Horses will be well represented, of those 40, nine are equine organizations.

“We are pleased to see the equine community being well represented during the Inaugural Parade,” said American Horse Council President Julie Broadway. “Equines were an integral part of the foundation of the United States, and Presidents throughout history have appreciated and admired the grandeur of the horse.”

The tradition of an Inaugural parade dates back to the very first Inauguration, when George Washington took the oath of office on April 30, 1789, in New York City. The first organized parade occurred in 1809, at the Inauguration of James Madison. A troop of cavalry from Georgetown escorted him to the Capitol and, after taking the oath of office, Madison sat in review of nine companies of militia. Future Inaugurations saw military escorts grow more elaborate. William H. Harrison’s parade in 1841 featured floats and for the first time, military companies from outside the Washington, D.C. area accompanied the President-elect to the Capitol. Citizens clubs, political clubs, military bands, and groups of college students also marched, setting future precedent.

Among the 9 equestrian organizations participating in this year’s inaugural parade is the Merced County Sheriff Posse. The Sheriff’s Posse is comprised of 14 riders and hails from California.

“To have this prestigious honor bestowed upon us, to me, it is kind of an overwhelming factor. I’m very humbled and privileged,” said Sheriff Vern Warnke.

The Black Horse Troop from Culver Academy, Indiana, is sending 100 horses and riders to the inaugural parade. This year marks the 17th time the troop has participated, their first appearance in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson was sworn in. The high school students will be riding primarily Friesians and Quarter horses.

“We are honored to be invited to take part in the presidential inaugural, the 17th for our school,” said Jim Power, head of schools of the Culver Academies, of which Culver Military Academy is one. “It is a privilege to continue this prestigious tradition and reflects Culver’s time-honored values of leadership and service.”

Horses Representing in the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Parade

  • Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team – An equestrian team from Kentucky that was developed to lease horses to children who might not otherwise have the chance to ride. Riders range in age from 10 to 17.
  • Caisson Platoon, Fort Myer – A U.S. army platoon from Fort Myer, Virginia. They are known for participating in funerals of those who die in service of their country and who are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Cleveland Police Mounted Unit – Cleveland, Ohio’s mounted units, and one of the oldest of its kind in the country. They participated in the inauguration of Warren Harding in 1921, and years later, they marched in his funeral procession. The unit consists of seven riders and seven horses.
  • Culver Academy Equestrian – An equestrian group from Culver Academy, a boarding school in Indiana. Fifty-six boys from Culver Military Academy, and 24 girls from Culver Girls Academy, will participate.
  • First Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment – A U.S. army equestrian military unit posted at Fort Hood, Texas. The division has participated in several previous inaugural parades including Barack Obama’s in 2009. The unit consists of 40 people and dates back to 1972
  • First Infantry Division Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard – A division stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. Troopers in this unit are outfitted in uniforms from the Civil War.
  • First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry – A volunteer cavalry troop from Pennsylvania. This group dates back to 1774, as it was the first cavalry organized to defend the colonies. They previously participated in the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
  • Merced County Sheriff’s Posse – A unit from Hilmar, California consisting of 14 horses.
  • Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team & Color Guard – A drill team from Ann Arbor, Michigan that participated in the past three presidential inaugurations.
  • Mid-America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team – An equestrian team based out of Three Oaks, Michigan and consisting of 18 horses and riders.
  • The Freedom Riders – A group of six female horseback riders from Kersey, Colorado who previously performed at the inauguration of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

1923 Inaugural parade for President Calvin Coolidge

Edited from the Following Resources: http://www.paulickreport.com/horse-care-category/hoof-care-category/equestrian-organizations-take-park-inaugural-parade/, https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-ceremonial-role-of-horses, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/26/culver-horse-troop-saddling-up-for-trumps-inaugura/, http://heavy.com/news/2017/01/inauguration-parade-2017-donald-trump-list-of-participants-college-university-high-school-marching-band-participating/

Photography Courtesy: Dave Skinner and the National Museum