- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A group of students from the prestigious Culver Academies in Indiana will get to live out the dream of a lifetime today as they and their four-legged friends march in the Presidential Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The 62 Black Horse Troopers and 23 Equestriennes will put into practice three months of learning how to handle the magnificent horses in formation and dealing with parade noise.

Today will mark the 14th time that the Culver Black Horse Troop, the boy’s unit, has participated in an inaugural parade. It will be the fifth trip to Washington for the Equestriennes, the girls’ unit.

“The reality of a trip to Washington creates so much enthusiasm with the students that the extra work seems enjoyable,” said Ed Little, the school’s director of horsemanship. “The Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes will be the most impressive units in the parade. It’s great fun to continue the tradition and show the world what we have here in Culver.”

At the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, where the Culver horses were being housed yesterday, the students were busy grooming the horses as they prepared to practice for the parade in the 25-degree weather and snow.

Riding in the inaugural parade is the highlight of most of the equestrians’ four years at the academies. To many, the inaugural preparations are cause for great excitement and little sleep.

“I usually can sleep into about noon, and I couldn’t sleep past 7:30 today,” said Shane Guliani, 17, who is originally from Orlando, Fla.

Even with the expected highs of 36 degrees today, the Culver riders didn’t seem to notice — or care about the frigid temperatures. They are prepared for the cold: They’ve been practicing since October in Culver, Ind., where average winter temperatures are 22 degrees.

“This is almost a heat wave compared to what we’ve been going through,” Mr. Little said.

Each carrying an American flag, the students will ride in formation three to four wide for the boys and two to three wide for the girls. The group is 17th in line to march in the parade, which begins at 2 p.m.

Savannah Kranich, a senior at Culver and co-captain of the Equestriennes, said she will ride in the front of the girls’ group on her chestnut-colored horse named Sam.

Savannah, 17, decided to attend Culver because of its horse program. She has been riding since she was 9 years old, she said, and sees the opportunity to ride in the inaugural parade as a dream come true.

“Before I even came to Culver, I wanted to be the captain during an inaugural parade,” she said, “so this is pretty neat.”

Most of Savannah’s classmates didn’t have horsemanship experience before they attend Culver, Mr. Little said.

“About 85 percent of our students didn’t ride before they came to Culver,” Mr. Little said.

But out of Culver’s 750 students, about 90 are part of the equestrian program.

Shane said he had no interest in riding until after a Culver graduate “talked my ear off for an hour and convinced me to get into troops,” he said. “The rest is history.”

Tomas Yarrington, a squadron commander and a native of Mexico, said marching in the parade is an honor.

“It’s an honor to ride. I’m very excited about it,” he said. “We’ve all been looking forward to it. We were all crossing our fingers that we would get in.”

Culver Academies is one of the last cavalry schools.

The Black Horse Troop from Culver Military Academy is the largest mounted unit in the United States. The troop, founded in 1897, made its first appearance in 1913 as an escort for former Indiana governor and then Vice President Thomas Marshall.

The troop typically sends 90 horses and riders and has appeared in every inaugural parade from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second inaugural in 1957 to the inaugural of President George Bush in 1989. Earlier, the troop appeared for both of Woodrow Wilson’s parades in 1913 and 1917.

The troop returned to the parade in 1997 for President Clinton’s second inauguration and performed in President Bush’s first inaugural parade in 2001.

The Equestriennes made their Presidential Inaugural Parade debut in 1989 and have joined the Black Horse Troop in every inaugural parade since then.

• Melissa Brosk contributed to this report.

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