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Parade Saddle Archive

We get some really great emails here at the archive-- some share some really great history and information. Please email us your questions and comments

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When I stumbled upon your website, I felt as if I'd found the Holy Grail! Ever since I was a child I've been obsessed with parade tack, the result of being a horse-crazy kid growiing up in the Midwest and going to many horseshows in Indiana.

The Hoosier state was a hotbed of parade activity in the 1950's.  The Indiana Saddle Horse Association actually had two parade divisions then:  silver and non-silver, plus parade ponies and parade pairs.  I remember Ted Flowers when he was showing in parade classes as well as building tack.  He had a beautiful palomino stallion named Sun Down Mack ( I read somewhere that he was a registered Quarter Horse!).  Ted and Mack cleaned up in the statewide parade classes.  Mack was champion Parade Horse in the ISHA for several years.

The parade division in those days was by no means an all-Saddlebred affair. many mixed-breed animals were used, and I remember a Hackey Horse stallion shown in this division.
I saw a lot of interesting and lovely rigs over the years.  One I remember vividly was an outfit that had hexagonal pieces instead of the usual diamonds and half-diamonds.  There were also some saddles in the early '50's that had the skirts and jockeys covered with solid sheets of silver instead of diamonds.  And Bob Whitney showed up in a parade stake with a saddle made of gold-colored pieces instead of silver.  Would love to know who built all those. 
I read somewhere recently that parade classes are no longer in today's shows - can this be true?  If so, I can understand as the old rigs are getting fragile and new ones aren't being built.  But what a wonderful heyday they had!
Thanks for letting me share some memories. 
Julie Allen
6/15/2005 - Webmaster: I wrote back to Julie and asked her if that is actually Ted Flowers on the front of his catalog... here is her answer with even more great historical info!
...Yes, that is Ted on Sun Down Mack on the cover of his catalogues.  Mack is wearing a one of those massive parade bridles which apparently went out of fashion later, so I'd guess this photo was from the mid-fifties.  ...  He made more than just parade saddles as he made custom outfits, too. Many of these were for TV and rodeo cowboy stars and other celebrities.  Of course, mounted color guards and Shrine Horse Patrols would have been big customers for parade tack as well.
 Sudden thought - I wonder if he ever made any circus tack?  Peru and Muncie were once the center of much circus activity.  The former town was once the winter headquarters for the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus among others, and it strikes me that Ted possibly could have made tack for circus horses as it was virtually all custom made.  I wonder. 
Please feel free to use my email on your site.  I've got lots more I'd love to talk about, as well as many questions. 
Julie Allen



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