Monday, July 3, 2006

Parade Fever

Monday July 3 2006

Every Fourth of July, Bridgeport puts on a small-town parade and 3 or 4 days of festivities. There’s a surprisingly large out-of-town crowd that descends upon us for the holiday. The locals participate in the parade: the Forest Service and BLM have floats, the Hunewill Guest Ranch riders ride down Main Street, Leavitt Meadows Pack Station leads a string of mules, CHP and Deputy Sheriffs and other local businesses participate. Last year was the first time in the 8 years I’d been here that I’d even seen the parade.

Our new horse-friendly District Ranger Cheryl said, a while back, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we actually rode our Forest Service horses in the parade?” In all my time here, no one from this Forest Service had ever ridden our horses in it. Forest and Park Services used to rely heavily on horse power on their trails – but horse use is getting fewer and further between districts now. We’re one of the few districts in Region 5 that even have horses. We entertained the idea for a while, wondering how exactly our seasoned pack horses would take to crowds and floats and flags and screaming children and lots of people in downtown Bridgeport, and we were going to take them downtown one quieter day for a practice run, but nobody ever had time, so we blew off the idea.

So, this morning I walk into the office, and hear Cheryl and Ingrid discussing the idea. “I think we should go for it. What do you think?” Me, well, I’m thinking of spooking horses on slick pavement, which is really hard if you hit it, panicked horses getting loose… “Yea, let’s go for it!” I could care less about me being in a parade, but, the test of getting these horses through a parade, well, I am utterly intrigued with the challenge.

I’m not only going to ride the spookiest horse, my buddy Paiute, I am going to pony Zak, the blind one. Well, he’s only blind in one eye. Cheryl and Ingrid will ride; Cheryl’s husband Bob will ride and pony Brenda our mule.

We’ll ride them down the backstreets of town to get to the start of the parade – that will be our test. If they can’t pass that, we won’t start the parade down mainstreet. Of course, the back streets will be much quieter than Main Street.

Uh… there is going to be an ambulance around, right?

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