Two of the many equestrian participants in last month's Inaugural Parade are active foxhunters. Bennett Opitz, a fourth-generation foxhunter whose parents are Masters at Thornton Hill-Fort Valley (VA), rode with the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. Diane Brady, of Waterloo Hunt Club (MI), traveled all the way to Washington, DC, with her hunt horse as an invitee of the Michigan Multi-jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard. Both riders enjoyed the honor and excitement of taking part in this historic tradition.
To read our article about Bennett Opitz' storied mounted unit, please click here. Continue reading below about Diane Brady's experience with her mounted division from Michigan.
Diane Brady and Phoebe on Inauguration Day. Photo by Kallie Meyers.
Brady and her hunt horse, Phoebe, traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Parade. Brady and her husband, Grant, hunt regularly at Waterloo Hunt Club in Michigan. Brady and Phoebe were invited by the Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard to participate in the parade. The group was made up of 21 members from various mounted divisions from around Michigan. Brady has been a volunteer for the Livingston County Sheriff's Division with Phoebe for five years.
Phoebe is a 16-year-old TB/Shire cross and is trained using various desensitizing techniques in order to be ready when called into service, for search and rescue, crowd control, or parades. "Phoebe has been listening to loud band music playing in the barn these past weeks, some of it I can't get out of my head we've listened so much!" Brady explains.
All mounted division horses are subjected to continual and rigorous training in order to be able to handle an event like this parade, and all of the horses behaved superbly. "They had multiple safe areas arranged along the route in case things went south, but fortunately we didn't need them." Brady reports that Phoebe has hunted behind several different packs around the country, and regularly at two Michigan hunts. "Phoebe has always handled most things in a level-headed way, in part because compared to the thrill of the hunt, most other stuff is boring!”
It cost about $500 total to transport a horse to and board in DC, plus the costs for the humans who stayed nearby at various hotels. The 21 horses traveled with a commercial hauler and riders drove separately or traveled by bus, toting their gear. “I was the only mounted division rider from my county that had the desire, the money, and time to go to this honorable event,” said Brady.
All horses were required to have borium on their shoes to walk onto Pennsylvania Avenue. On the morning of the event, horses were picketed with hay and water on a large parking lot until given the ""mount up order. “The waiting in the staging area on Friday was long and there was a lot of commotion everywhere and helicopters flying overhead. But once mounted, it was wonderful and we moved along nicely, the horses settled right in to the procession."
Brady describes the end of the busy day. "We were exhilarated and exhausted afterwards, horses were immediately trucked about 15 miles away to where they were stabled at the Prince George Equestrian Center in Maryland. Once they were all safely tucked in for the night, we scrambled to shower and head to the Michigan Gala Ball held at Smithsonian History Museum on Constitution Avenue, where we finally had dinner at 10:00 PM!”
Brady plans to ride in future Presidential Inauguration Parades if she is lucky enough to be chosen and has a suitable mount like Phoebe. We at Waterloo Hunt are very proud of this pair!