As the 133rd Tournament of Roses Parade stepped off on New Year’s Day, the procession includes 43 floats over 5 ½ miles. Traveling that distance over 4 hours creates slick conditions for the 18 equestrian units, making the jobs of farriers Ada Gates-Patton and Bert Lee critical for the time-honored tradition.
More than 20 years ago, Gates-Patton was approached by Linda Klausner, who was equestrian chair of the parade, because the hydraulic fluid from the trucks and floats made the pavement slippery for the horses. Gates-Patton agreed to take on the volunteer job as the official parade horse inspector, creating mandatory shoeing specifications for all horses participating in the procession. The horses are required to be shod with a tungsten carbide tipped nail to improve traction.
Each of the approximately 200 horses are inspected by Gates-Patton, beginning Dec. 28 at the Equestrian Center in Burbank, Calif., where many of the out-of-state horses are stabled. Lee, who has been the parade farrier for decades, accompanies Gates-Patton and shoes them properly if a horse fails inspection. Most of the horses appropriately shod, but “one slips through the cracks,” occassionally, the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame member tells Colorado Boulevard.