Staff is always searching
April 23, 2021
During the virtual “Parade Across America” on Jan. 20, two of Culver Academies’ horses – Jack and Thomas – received special mention. Jack (left) has taken part in six presidential inaugural parades and Thomas (right) has made five appearances.
It was a nice piece that led into a larger segment about different groups and individuals who have participated in multiple parades. But it also highlighted something that is of concern to the Culver Horsemanship staff.
That television segment shows that the Black Horse Troop is aging out. Consider that both Jack and Thomas were already participating in inaugural parades before any of the Culver’s Troopers and Equestriennes were born. And the segment didn’t mention the number of horses that have participated in four and three inaugural parades. More than half of the black horses are over 15 years old, Mark Waller, director of Horsemanship instruction, said.
That is why Waller (email) and Director of Horsemanship Operations Frank Stubblefield (email) are always looking for younger black or mostly black horses. And they aren’t above asking people if they would be interested in donating them to the northern Indiana boarding school, Stubblefield said.
They have accepted Friesians, Morgans, thoroughbreds, jumpers, and polo ponies, just to name a few. The horses will be used in riding classes for winter and summer, parades, jumping competitions, rough riding, western, and special performances by Culver’s Equestriennes and Lancer Platoon. Some will even be selected to give pony rides to employees’ children during the holiday season.
It sounds like the horses are working all the time, Stubblefield said. But they are able to enjoy some much-needed rest in Culver’s three pastures while the students and campers are away. Horses are limited to the number of times they are used; and, with room for 94 horses in the Vaughn Equestrian Center, it is easy to save certain horses for special tasks.
Donating an appropriate horse to Culver is one of the best things people can do to help in the development of the next generation of riders and owners. While the donation may not generate the same amount of money as selling the horse, there are tax benefits since Culver is a non-profit institution. Plus, Culver will provide a loving, consistent home for your horse.
When the time comes and the horse lets the staff know they are ready to retire, Culver will find an appropriate home for them as a therapy horse or go home to a private owner looking for a “pasture ornament,” Stubblefield explained.
The ideal horse is 5-to-10 years old, 15.2 hands high, and 1,000 pounds, Stubblefield said. The horse doesn’t need to be competition ready. They don’t need to be a perfect jumper or they can be thoroughbred who has lost a step or two. They will work just fine. The staff will evaluate what each horse is capable of and is willing to do.
Waller added the staff is looking for a horse that is referred to as “husband-proof.”
The Black Horse Troop has been in existence since 1897. Along with its many inaugural parade appearances, the horses have appeared in the Pegasus Parade during Derby Weekend, the World Equestrian Games, and the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade. The Friesian Color Guard will be presenting the colors at this year’s Kentucky Derby, Waller added
And they always add an interesting twist to Culver’s widely recognized Leadership program, Stubblefield said. “We like to say at Culver that some of our best instructors have four legs.”