Holiday Hooves: The Rose Parade’s Equestfest

Applaud the ponies of the Rose Parade (ahead of the parade).

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Every aficionado of the equestrian arts knows that horsey happiness isn't found in merely viewing a magnificent animal canter at a distance. Rather, getting a bit closer to the animal's story, the riders, and what goes in to a pony's performance is what brings satisfaction to the devoted saddle watcher.

These are some of the trottable tenets behind Equestfest, the grand preview of the horses set to appear in the Rose Parade. It's presented by Wells Fargo, and it happens not in Pasadena but just a hop/skip outside, at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park.

Like Bandfest, which blows its trumpet on Dec. 29 and 30 at Pasadena City College, Equestfest is all about giving Rose Parade devotees a lingering, up-close look at a part of the Jan. 1 parade that can, and does, move by at an impressive clip.

That "part of the parade" in this case includes the ponies and their riders. The two-hour Equestrian Show is the centerpiece of the Tuesday, Dec. 29 showcase, and it begins at noon in the Equidome. (Yep, organizers call it "High Noon," emphasizing Equestfest's obvious Western-thematic ties.)

It isn't all about the performance and poise of the mane'd beauties in the main ring, however. "Attendees can also stroll through the stables, talk to riders and learn about various tack and the many different breeds while enjoying the vendor court, displays, great music, food and drinks," reveals the Tournament site.

Getting a chance to stroll the area where the horse are keeping house during the week of New Year's is a rare treat, as is getting to ask riders what the best parts of being in the parade are (and, of course, the expected challenges of trotting in all of that happy hubbub, by thousands of spectators).

Horses are pure grace, of course, and while many a human might quiver at appearing in such a gigantic spectacle, these ponies have flair to spare and joy to share.

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