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Carriage Driver/Horse Rider
Barney in the 2009 Rose Parade
Mariah in Night of the Horse
Zak in the 2015 Rose Parade
Gema at Night of the Horse
Andy in the Ramona Parade
Mariah in the Mother Goose Parade
I have been riding since the age of 7 and driving horses since I was 12. When I moved to California form Ohio, I got a yearling Appaloosa named Barney. I raised and trained him to both ride and drive. I also raised Miniature Horses and currently have three of them (Zak, Milton and Seven). While too small to ride, all of them drive - as well as my miniature donkey, Andy. Rounding out my collection is my beautiful black Arabian mare, named Mariah, which I trained to ride and drive.
I have ridden and driven in parades all over the country, including the Rose Parade (6 times), Hollywood Christmas Parade (2 times) and the Tucson Rodeo Parade. I also collect carriages, buggies and sleighs, several of which are true antiques and over 130 years old.
I lost Barney in 2010. He was an Appaloosa that had done many things in his life. He was a wonderful, trustworthy trail and parade horse, and also had a show career in which he won many driving Champion and Grand Champion awards. Besides driving, Barney was my endurance horse for many years, starting in the 25 mile division and then competing in the 50 mile division – in which he won the First Appaloosa Award in the 50 mile Little Rock Endurance.
One of my favorite days driving Barney was on my birthday. It had snowed for several days, and when it finally stopped snowing, I hitched him to my antique Portland Cutter sleigh and drove in the beautiful fresh snow for several hours. He was my first horse that I drove in the Rose Parade.
Gema is my 12-hand Section A Welsh Pony mare. She was born in 2005. In her former life, Gema was a children's hunter/jumper pony. She now drives in parades, performances and shows and has even won Grand Championships in driving as well! A few years ago she had a small part in a movie, pulling a carriage. She participated in the 2021 Equestfest, which is held just days before the Rose Parade.
Zak was a rescue case that was delivered to my home in a U-Haul truck. I heard the truck coming with him scrambling in it, but before I could reach the end of my driveway, they had him jump out of it without a ramp. The guy handed Zak’s lead rope to me and drove off. There stood a perfect miniature Appaloosa with bright eyes (one was blue) with his head held high, and an attitude of “Ok, here I am, now what? Bring it on, I can handle it!”
Zak’s beginning was a little different than other horses. As a Miniature Horse, his original owners thought he would be a great “toy” for their kids and kept him in their back yard, just like a dog. Naturally, being a spunky little colt (and not a thing like a dog), in just a few days he had intimidated the whole family to the point that they took him to a ranch, boarded him in a stall, and neglected him for the next three and a half years. He received no exercise in his growing years, so when he came to me at four years of age, he had locking stifles. His hind legs would drag on the ground when he walked, but he would not let anyone have any pity on him, in fact, he went right up to the biggest horse we have and announced himself as the new king of the ranch!
Zak’s personality is as large as his size is small. I eventually taught Zak how to drive and he won Reserve High Point Driving and High Point Miniature Horse the first year I showed him. When the Victorian Roses were invited to participate in Night of the Horse, a huge performance at Del Mar, CA, I decided it was time to let Zak take on his biggest challenge of all. In the show, when our routine began, Zak was third in the lineup – behind two huge draft horses! But he came into the arena strutting his stuff, and keeping up with the fast pace of the draft horses. As the routine ended, he parked himself right between the big guys and looked up at the crowd as if to say “Look at me! I might be tiny, and my beginning might have been rough, but I’m here to show you that I can do anything!” He was my 2nd horse that I drove in the Rose Parade (2015). More recently he was in a movie and won the hearts of the cast and is also in the trailer.
Andy is a rare Sicilian Miniature Donkey born in 1992. He has done parades, appearances, a commercial and even a movie. Andy prefers life in the slow lane and is very mellow and sweet. He has a special miniature donkey wagon that was built especially for him. He made an appearance pulling it at Old Town in 2015 right in the town square. He gets a lot of attention for being the cutest thing ever!
KC Mariah is my 15-hand black purebred Arabian mare. She was born in 2003 and I knew she was to be mine the minute I set eyes on her, which was shortly after she was born. She is everything I could want in a horse and does everything with strength and elegance. I trained her to both ride and drive. She looks stunning in parades and performances in her carriage with her long legs and high head set. She was my 3rd horse that was in the Rose Parade. Our favorite thing to do is to go on multi-day carriage drives. I have a connection with her that I have never had with a horse before; it is often like she is reading my mind. While sometimes Mariah keeps me on my toes with her energy, she always loves to please.
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