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What a long, strange trip it's been

Jan Garrison

Inaugural ride is in the books


January 22, 2021

It was all over but the shouting – and that came at 5:23 p.m. (EST) Wednesday.

That is when Culver Academies’ Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes rode across television screens around the United States – and the world – as part of the “Parade Across America.” They represented Indiana in the virtual Presidential Inaugural Parade.

In what has become the new normal because of COVID-19, instead traveling to Washington, D.C., and waiting to perform, the students were able to watch themselves ride across Henderson Parade Field along with the rest of the viewers. They gathered in the Legion Memorial Building for a special watch party, complete with pizza, using two large screen televisions in the Heritage Room and the Alumni Lounge. When the group appeared on the screens, a loud cheer erupted.

Troop Commander Jacob Graham ’21 started the appearance with an introduction and Equestriennes Co-Captains Carly Chandler ’21 (Indianapolis) and Ralea Fatzer ’21 (Yukon, Oklahoma) congratulated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to finish the segment.

Approximately 20 minutes later, two of Culver’s horses were singled out for making the most appearances in the parade. Jack was honored for his sixth appearance and Thomas, ridden by Graham, for his fifth.

Watch the performance here

After it was over, Sam Suppes ’21 (Johnstown, Pennsylvania) said the moment made those cold practices worthwhile. “It was cool having lots of people watching from back home and to take part in such a great Culver tradition,” he said. “It is something that I will cherish for many years to come.”

The northern Indiana prep boarding school riders had been preparing for their moment in the spotlight since October. The video of the 48 Troopers and 22 Equestriennes riding in parade formation was taped on Jan. 13 and submitted to the Presidential Inaugural Committee the following day. On Monday, Jan. 18, the official word came from the committee the mounted units would be in parade.

The appearance marked the 18th time the Black Horse Troop has participated in the inaugural celebration since its first appearance in 1913. That is when the unit served as the official escort for Vice President Thomas Marshall during Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parade. Marshall had visited campus while governor of Indiana. The Equestriennes have appeared eight times.

This year’s appearance will go down in history as one of the most unusual. In 1985, the Troop and Equestriennes made the trip to Washington for President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration only to have the parade canceled due to severe cold and wind chill.

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