Prospect Park horse parade taps into Brooklyn’s equestrian roots
Joggers and cyclists cocked their heads in Prospect Park on Saturday when a line of horses trotted past them. The four-legged animals were marching in Brooklyn’s first equestrian rally since the 1930s.
The parade was one of the first steps at promoting the re-invigoration of Prospect Park’s once-rich equestrian culture, helmed by John Quadrozzi Jr.
“For us, this is an important point,” Quadrozzi said. “We’re looking to focus on the prominence of horseback riding in Prospect Park.”
The parade featured more than a dozen horses from the Prospect Park Stable, Parks Enforcement Patrol and the Nassau-Suffolk Horseman’s Association, whose riders drove 85 miles to be there.
Once the parade got to the park’s riding circle known as the “Q equine area,” demonstrations began.
Decked out in period clothing as Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, Melanie Davidson with her horse, Willow, and Frank Bradford with his, Chase, waved flags high as they rode around the circle. They later “ran at the heads,” a military act that involved crushing the skulls of enemy soldiers. (In this case, the skulls were made of red solo cups and bread rolls).
As children and their parents curiously walked into the circle, Quadrozzi’s daughter Xiana took them around the Q for pony rides, one of the event’s biggest hits.
But Quadrozzi says there’s still a lot of work to be done to get the park back to its equestrian roots. In 1935, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and ASPCA sponsored a horse and dog parade with 252 horses and 500 dogs.
The Bridal Path the horses took to get to the circle needs to be renovated and properly signed for safety, Quadrozzi said. And for the health of the horses, as well as the enjoyment of the people in the park, a “turnout,” or open space for the horses to roam, is important.
“There are many things that are needed here for the horses and for the safety of the park goers,” Quadrozzi said.
Paul Frangipane is a proud Brooklyn College alumnus and New Jersey native. He documents daily life and overlapping cultures through photography and videography. You can follow more of his work on Twitter and Instagram.
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