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IT’S 3 A.M on New Year’s Day.
While the rest of Pasadena, Calif., sleeps, the hustle and bustle of numerous equestrians and 300 horses, ponies and mules gather underneath a closed-off lower level of the freeway preparing for the 5-mile trek down the Tournament of Roses Parade route.
This is where Ada Gates starts her long morning inspecting shoes for traction devices.
Armed with a flashlight and clipboard, Gates begins at the end of the line, lifting feet and taking note of who has traction devices and who doesn’t.
“It wasn’t always this way,” the shoer from Pasadena, Calif., explains. “They didn’t always inspect. But they had a couple of horses fall down on the parade route in different years. Once the horses fell down, they couldn’t get them up. It’s like a pig on ice.”
When a horse falls down that can’t get back up on its own, specialized Humane Society teams are called in to roll the horse onto rubber mats. As if it’s not bad enough that the entire parade is delayed, this whole scene is played out in front of 40,000 people, if they’re lucky enough to do it out of the television camera’s view. In that case, it’s 5 million.
“It’s a terrible, negative moment,” she says. “It upsets the public and makes the parade look bad.”
When the Tournament of Roses began investigating the cause for these fallen horses, they found one thing in common: flat, steel shoes without traction devices.
“If the horse…